For the primary time in almost two years, Keyontae Johnson returned to the basketball court docket in a aggressive recreation on Monday — and did not look too not like the participant who earned preseason SEC Participant of the 12 months and first-round NBA draft hype in 2020.
Johnson, now a member of Kansas State after transferring from Florida final spring, hadn’t performed since collapsing throughout a recreation in December 2020. On Monday, he began within the Wildcats’ 93-59 season-opening win over UT Rio Grande Valley and completed with 13 factors, 4 assists and three 3-pointers.
“I am feeling good, simply thanking God day-after-day for giving me the chance to get right here and play once more, simply staying affected person,” Johnson mentioned. “Earlier than the sport, I used to be a little bit emotional, however I knew the sport was going to go so I needed to maintain going, simply play and lay all the pieces out for my group.”
Johnson’s first factors in 23 months got here on a 3-pointer with 14 minutes left within the first half, and he adopted that up with one other 3-pointer lower than one minute later.
“Like I instructed the fellows tonight, whether or not you felt you performed effectively or did not play effectively or performed quite a bit or did not play — no one must be sad tonight as a result of Keyontae Johnson performed a basketball recreation, an actual recreation, an NCAA basketball recreation for the primary time in two years,” mentioned first-year Kansas State coach Jerome Tang.
Johnson was averaging 16.0 factors within the first 4 video games of the 2020-21 season when he fell face-first to the ground popping out of a first-half timeout in the course of the Gators’ recreation at Florida State on Dec. 12, 2020. He was rushed to a Tallahassee hospital, the place he was stabilized earlier than being transported to a Gainesville hospital. He was launched on Dec. 22, 10 days after collapsing.
Johnson wasn’t cleared to play or apply at Florida within the season and a half following the incident, however began for the Gators on Senior Day final season. He acquired the opening tipoff and known as timeout earlier than kneeling right down to kiss the ground and being subbed out of the sport.
Johnson graduated from Florida final spring and opted to play elsewhere for his remaining yr of eligibility. He selected Kansas State in August over Nebraska, Western Kentucky and Memphis, getting medically cleared to play within the course of.
Tang mentioned earlier this month that Johnson performed 31 minutes in a preseason scrimmage, and the Virginia native additionally performed 17 minutes in an exhibition recreation in opposition to Washburn final week.