First-year West Virginia University men’s basketball player Kedrian Johnson was as effective a player as you could find in junior college basketball last season.
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Johnson was a redshirt-sophomore at Temple College in Temple, Texas last season and finished fourth in the nation in scoring at 25.5 points per game. That, along with 5.4 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 3.4 steals per game made Johnson one of the highest-rated JUCO prospects in the nation.
Now preparing for the start of his first season with West Virginia, Johnson said he is more focused on trying to get his bearings rather than duplicating his junior college numbers.
“Right now I’m more of a ball-handler, but they want me to score more because of what I did in junior college,” Johnson said. “But I’m taking the time to get comfortable before going by to my junior college self.”
WVU is not Johnson’s first Division I school. Coming out of South Oak Cliff High School in Dallas, Texas, Johnson originally committed to Saint Peters of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and redshirted there as a true freshman during the 2017-2018 season. He then left for Temple College in Texas.
Johnson’s future with the Mountaineers is bright, according to coach Bob Huggins, but he must get comfortable with his new system and new teammates first.
“It’s a process but he’s getting better and better,” Huggins said. “Right now he’s thinking too much and not really reacting but he’s a talented guy, he’s going to be a really good player.”
Huggins going out and recruiting a player that put up gaudy offensive numbers in junior college should sound familiar to WVU fans. Just last year, Huggins brought in Sean McNeil and Taz Sherman, who both had their own eye-popping numbers while in the junior college ranks.
McNeil averaged 29.7 points in his final season at Sinclair Community College and Sherman averaged 25.9 points himself for Collin College. Last year, they both went through the transition period Johnson now finds himself in.
Johnson said he has felt a connection with McNeil and Sherman, as former junior college players.
“Me and Sean are very similar because Sean took off a year before going back to junior college and I feel like I did the same with redshirting my first year [at Saint Peters] and just sitting out and learning everything,” Johnson said. “With Taz, we’re pretty much the exact same. We were in the same junior college conference so we were playing each other, getting to know each other and once we got here it was like an automatic bond because we’re JUCO guys.”
McNeil said the transition is hard for all first-year players and it can be especially hard at WVU due to some of the oddities in Huggins’ system.
“First-year guys just in general, whether you’re a transfer of whether you’re a freshman, mistakes are going to happen,” McNeil said. “Especially here, it’s just a unique program, they do things a little bit different here.”
McNeil said the key is being able to relax and not stress yourself out over trying to be perfect all the time.
“It takes a little bit to get adjusted and relax, but Kedrian’s doing well. He stresses himself out a little bit, just like we all do but he’s going to be fine,” McNeil said. “The game’s going to come and the offense takes a little bit to get used to, but he’s playing really well. As long as he doesn’t let one play get to him and just continues to play present he’s going to be fine. He’s going to help us a lot.”
While Johnson is taking time to get comfortable with what WVU runs, he said spending time with his new teammates is what has helped him the most.
“This is one of the most talented teams I’ve actually seen and been a part of,” Johnson said. “In practice, going up against these guys is great because I’ve never been on a team where I wasn’t the best player or the most athletic so it’s really helpful.”
As the Mountaineers’ season-open against Texas A&M on Nov. 25 approaches, Johnson said he is focusing on being himself and letting the game come to him.
“The coaches always tell me to just be myself and I’ll fit in as time goes by,” Johnson said. “Just play my game and everything will fall in line.”