MBB Feature: Johnson Expects Monster Return in 2018-19
Johnson Expects Monster Return in 2018-19
LORMAN, Miss. – Last year was supposed to be the year for senior Reginal “Monsta” Johnson from the Alcorn State University men’s basketball program.
The 2017-18 SWAC Preseason Player of the Year was gearing up for his final season as a Brave after being named a 2016-17 HBCU All-American. The Monroe, Louisiana native led the team with 15.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game as a junior to guide Alcorn to the SWAC title game and a second-place finish in the regular season.
Johnson got the 2017-18 season started on a high note with six double-figure scoring games in his first seven outings including 20 points against Concordia.
Additionally, Johnson joined the 1,000-point career scoring club on Nov. 22, 2017 after a 15-point performance against Yale.
However, in the eighth game on Nov. 29, 2017, his season came to abrupt and tragic halt as he laid on the floor at Tulane grabbing his leg. Johnson had gone up for an offensive rebound and landed awkwardly on the base line. He stayed down for over 15 minutes as an air cast was placed on his right leg.
With his family, coaches and teammates standing by, Johnson was taken out of Devlin Fieldhouse on a stretcher and transported to a nearby medical facility.
Johnson was diagnosed with a broken fibula and tibia in his right leg. A rod was placed in his leg in December 2017 and sewn back together. The 6-5 forward missed the remained of the season, and had to wait to see if he’d be granted a medical redshirt to play another year.
“It was really tough being on the bench on crutches and not being able to play. That was the first time in my career that I had to sit out because of an injury. It was hard because I knew in certain situations the team needed me but I couldn’t be out there with them,” Johnson said. “I tried to look at it from a positive standpoint. It gave other guys more experience to play and get better.”
The shorthanded Braves finished the year 11-21 overall and 7-11 in conference. Alcorn entered the SWAC Championships as the No. 7 seed, but was knocked out by No. 2 Prairie View A&M in the first round 87-71.
Johnson had a second surgery in April to have a rod placed in his other leg to prevent a potential break in his left. The procedure was recommended by doctors after examining MRI’s on both legs.
It capped an injury-plagued season for the Braves, as Johnson was one of five student-athletes who were forced to sit out along with Khari Jabriel Allen, Harold Givens, Avery Patterson and Noah Plain. All but Patterson are still on the roster.
Still working on his academics, Johnson graduated from Alcorn with a Bachelor’s degree in general studies and a minor in mass communications in May 2018.
“Graduation was a great feeling because I’m the first in my immediate family to do so. It was a life-changing moment for me, and it also inspired both my sister and father as they’re both back in college now,” Johnson said.
Johnson rehabilitated his legs, underwent therapy four times a week and started playing basketball at a slower pace over the summer. He continued to lift weights and tried to maintain his form.
“Over the summer, the doctors told me that everything was going well, but it wasn’t fully healed yet,” Johnson said. “The goal was for me to be ready to go by the time the 2018-19 season started.”
Johnson received more good news in August when he was officially cleared by the NCAA for a medical redshirt.
“When I found out I could play again, I was ecstatic,” Johnson said. “Words can’t even describe how I feel just to be able to get back on the court and do something that I love to do.”
As the season approached, Johnson was getting closer to 100 percent but it was unclear whether he’d be ready to go for the season-opener. He made the trip to Tulsa for game one, but did not see action.
Johnson made his return to the court Friday for the first time in nearly 12 months as he logged 21 minutes off the bench against Blue Mountain in the team’s second game. He aided the Braves to a 79-55 victory with 14 points. It was his 56th career double-figure scoring game.
“I was really excited to have him back on the court. It was a great moment when he scored his first basket and it really energized the crowd,” said Alcorn head coach Montez Robinson. “The plan was only to play him about 10 minutes, but I told him before the game that if everything was going well then I’d leave him out there.”
Johnson is up to 1,053 career points at Alcorn. In addition to his 2016-17 HBCU All-America honor, he was named to the SWAC All-Conference Second-Team, SWAC All-Tournament Team and NABC All-District Second-Team.
“Reginal has done so much for this program over the last four years. Myself, his teammates and the community would have been sad and hurt if he wasn’t able to come back,” Robinson said. “He still has a long way to go, but he’s made great strides to getting back to the Monsta that we all know.”
Johnson is currently pursuing a master’s degree in athletic administration from Alcorn. He said his goal is to give back to his community, become a role model for younger kids and become a high school athletic director.
“I want to do something this year that I haven’t done, and that’s win a championship. There were a couple years here where we were in a position to win, but we let it slip away,” Johnson said. “Winning a championship is not an individual goal though, we all want to accomplish that as a team.”
Assistant AD/Sports Information
Alcorn State University
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