Redshirt freshman Johnson returns from injury to guard reputation
Most only see the six-foot-two-inch, dynamic point guard assisting the Eagles with win after win; however, there is much more to Zach Johnson than a number five on a crisp FGCU jersey.
Whether it is the pre-game traditions or the fourth quarter stretch, Johnson always turns on his game when it means the most. Coming into the season as a redshirt freshman, due to an undisclosed health condition in the 2014-15 season, Johnson is stronger than ever. He’s out to show he was not to be slept on.
“I didn’t want people to forget about why they chose me,” Johnson said. “I had to show the students and coaches what I could do.”
In his senior year of high school, Johnson was the front-runner at Miami Norland High School. He led his team to its third straight 6A State Championship.
Johnson knew coming into his return season that the leadership roles he once had would soon change.
“Just like transitions from middle school to high school, leadership starts all over again once you move to the next level,” Johnson said. Still, this didn’t discourage Johnson from becoming a timid freshman. Getting the most playing time out of all of the freshmen this season, Johnson showed that a season off could not hold him back.
“This past summer, going into the 2015-16 season, I didn’t go home at all,” Johnson said. “I stayed here all summer working with trainers and coaches to be ready for the season.”
Putting in the extra time is what elevated Johnson’s game to a whole other level.
The extra work is a major key to Johnson’s success this season, but the pre-game hype is what allowed Johnson to completely focus on his game. Some may see it as superstitious, but whatever it is, it’s surely paying off.
“Before every game I eat two bananas,” Johnson said. “I normally just keep to myself and really get hyped during the lay-up lines.”
Along with taking his game to the next level, Johnson also worked hard in the classroom. With plans to become a lawyer, school work is also a top priority for Zach. Though this is a difficult program, Johnson found that academic advising was extremely helpful when the team was on the road for games or putting in extra practice time.
Even though Johnson’s expectations for himself are through the roof, both academically and on the court, he has always showed that he wants what is best for the team.
When asked what makes him unique to the team, Johnson replied, “I think we all bring something unique. The whole team brings energy and physicality. I just do what I can to get involved and get inside the paint to make plays for my team.”
As the season starts to wind down, it is hard to imagine that this journey all began in the summer for not-so freshman Zach Johnson. In the beginning of the season, it allowed Johnson and the entire team to work out mistakes and to learn from them.
Now, with conference play in full swing, Johnson says the team needs to stay focused. “We must eliminate little mistakes toward the end of the season. That’s how you win games.”