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Johnson developing into key floor general

February 18, 2016

By: CHRIS PRIDE

MARTINSVILLE, Va. —  Developing a reliable point guard at the junior college level is no easy task.

Generally seen as the catalyst for any good offense or defense, point guards tend to make the plays that win games. The Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) men’s basketball team is starting to see its floor general emerge at just the right time.

The steady progression of Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) freshman Keyshawn Johnson has been a pleasant sight for seventh-year Patriots coach Kenny Wade. The South Boston, Va. native took over point guard duties after the winter break, and is now poised to help the Patriots make a strong closing run to the regular season and into March’s Region X tournament.

Johnson was brought to the attention of coach Wade by connections established through former PHCC Senior Athletic Administrator Chris Parker. Wade admitted he thought Johnson was a junior the first time he saw him play in high school. As it turned out, the guard saw the junior college instead as a great opportunity to play college basketball almost immediately.

Wade has understood the importance of point-guard play during his time at PHCC. He said it’s a critical position that dictates how his style of play is executed. Having Johnson start to grasp the position at the college level, he added, puts his team in a position to be dangerous in the closing weeks of the season.

“If you don’t have a floor general out there, you’re not going to get anything accomplished,” Wade said. “Everything starts with your point guard whether it’s offense or defense… You really got to have a floor general that can direct and will put people in their right places. Someone who can calm things down and also speed things up, and understands different things about the game.”

Johnson said adjusting initially to the speed of the game took him some time. But having now played in 15 conference games and being more accustomed to the competition level, the former Halifax County High School standout has started to take charge like his coach wants him to. Despite seeing the Patriots go 2-3 in their last five games, Johnson’s play at the point has more importantly continued to get better.

The freshman is averaging 12.6 points, six assists, 3.6 rebounds and 2.2 steals over his last five games. Playing better than 30 minutes per game in conference play, Johnson is shooting better than 50 percent for the season. He had a solid Region X debut Nov. 18 with 13 points in a 68-64 win over Vance-Granville Community College. Just weeks later, he scored a career-high 21 points in a 72-70 victory over Caldwell Community College on Dec. 2 before posting 20 points in a four-point win over Guilford Tech a week later.

Over the last month, Johnson admitted he’s gotten better at protecting the ball as seen by his 2.1 turnovers per game average. Johnson is becoming the main facilitator in the Patriots offense as Wade said his point guard is far less timid than he was at the start of the season. Wade added Johnson’s best attribute could arguably be his natural play-making ability.

“When the offense is moving it makes the defense shift and it opens up lanes for people to take it,” Johnson said.

The recent uptick in assists by the freshman proves his ability to put others in positions to make a difference. PHCC is averaging 77.3 points per game this season, despite failing to crack 70 over its last three games.

Over the last month, Johnson has become more vocal on the floor, helping direct the offense against a variety of traps, zones or man-to-man defenses. How the freshman continues to develop in terms of game management, Wade said, will determine how far the team can progress in the postseason.

“(Johnson) is starting to see what I expect and what I want,” Wade said. “He’s started to add his little flare and that’s why he’s been progressing. The rest of the guys feed off him.”

Filed under: Men's Basketball

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