Junior guard Johnson’s work ethic paying off for North Texas

Junior guard Johnson’s work ethic paying off for North Texas

Junior guard Johnson’s work ethic paying off for North Texas
February 04
04:04 2016

Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer

@ReeceTapout15

Practice didn’t start for another few hours, but there stood Mean Green junior guard Deckie Johnson all by himself in the echo chambers of the Super Pit. The squeak of his shoes and the bounce of the basketball reverberated off the vacant seats, with the only sound accompanying him being that of a rebound machine that fires basketballs back at him after he shoots.

Always the first one in the gym and the last one out, it is Johnson’s relentless work ethic that has propelled him to be North Texas’ third leading scorer at 14.1 points per game.

In only his first season with the Mean Green, Johnson describes himself as a silent assassin.

“I have a chip on my shoulder,” Johnson said. “Every night I play as hard as I can. What I love to do is shoot. So I am ready to shoot at all times, and I always think the next one is going in.”

Junior guard Deckie Johnson (10) follows through on a three point shot late in the game against Western Kentucky. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

Junior guard Deckie Johnson (10) follows through on a three point shot late in the game against Western Kentucky. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

Not the most vocal player on the court or in the locker room, Johnson prefers to let his actions speak for themselves. Some of those actions are hustle plays that do not always show up on the stat sheet, like taking charges and diving for loose balls.

“I like to lead by example,” Johnson said. “But I try to talk more on the court when I need to.”

A transfer from Angelina College last offseason, Johnson was a first team all-conference selection in his sophomore campaign and scored over 1,000 career points for the Roadrunners. After spending two years in Lufkin, Texas, Johnson transferred to UNT.

The reason behind his decision to come to Denton, according to Johnson, was a matter of commitment.

“I took the first chance I got,” Johnson said. “UNT was the first program to look at me, and I wanted to repay that loyalty. I was really close with the coaching staff and talked to them almost every day when I was at junior college.”

The go-to player for Angelina in 2014, Johnson averaged 18.7 points per game in his final year at Lufkin. During his two seasons at the junior college level, Johnson became a versatile player who could not only score, but defend as well.

Junior guard Deckie Johnson laughs at something a teammate says during a practice. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

Junior guard Deckie Johnson (10) laughs at something a teammate said during a practice. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

Despite the transition from junior college to tougher D-1 competition, Johnson’s game has not dropped off. In fact, Johnson’s presence has only strengthened the Mean Green, especially after the departure of Jordan Williams last season.

With the need for a combo guard in the lineup, Johnson has filled the void Williams left for North Texas.

“He’s not only a shooter or a scorer. He’s a complete player,” head coach Tony Benford said. “He studies the game and is always coming to get tape. That’s what I really respect about him. He takes his craft seriously and wants to be the best. We’re lucky to have him.”

A key player in the Mean Green’s offensive scheme, Johnson has missed only one game this year and provides more than just offense. His ability to shoot threes efficiently and create off-the-dribble forces defenses to close out on him, which opens up shots for teammates.

“He’s been really big for us this year,” sophomore forward Jeremy Combs said. “He’s able to make outside shots, which takes pressure off me, [J-Mychal Reese] and other guards, too.”

Johnson had a white-hot month of December, setting a career high for points on three separate occasions. He also finished two three-pointers shy of the North Texas school record for most threes in a game in a contest against Mississippi Valley State University.

But those three career games are not the ceiling for the Memphis native, according to Benford.

“I think it’s unlimited,” Benford said of Johnson’s potential. “With a guy like him, he can not only shoot it, but he can dribble it and pass it too. He’s a guy where you can look up and he has a triple-double. He has that kind of ability.”

Junior guard Deckie Johnson (10) gets in position to recieve a pass from a teammate against Western Kentucky. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

Junior guard Deckie Johnson (10) gets in position to recieve a pass from a teammate against Western Kentucky. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

The one element Johnson had to adjust to coming from junior college is the tempo of the game. Accustomed to a quicker pace at Angelina, Johnson credits his coaches and teammates for preparing him to play at a high level in a more competitive environment.

“When I was at junior college we played fast, but right now we play in the half-court a whole lot more,” Johnson said. “I live in the gym. My coaches and teammates have helped my transition both on the court and off it as well.”

While Johnson may live in the gym to perfect his craft, there is still one area off the court he needs to brush up on.

“I beat him in NBA 2K all the time,” Combs said. “I play with the Warriors and he uses Cleveland. He has LeBron so it’s an even match up. I’m just a better 2K player.”

Reluctantly, Johnson agreed with his teammate.

“He beat me a few times last year, but it’s a brand new year,” Johnson said. “I think I’m getting better, but yes, he’s probably better than me right now.”

But on the court, where it’s win or lose, Johnson is making his impact felt, with the potential for even brighter days ahead.

“He has a great attitude and works hard every day,” Benford said. “ He’s a winner and he’s going to keep getting better.”

Featured Image: Junior guard Deckie Johnson (10) looks up at the scoreboard late in the game against Western Kentucky. Dylan Nadwodny | Staff Photographer

About Author

Reporter

Reporter

Related Articles

0 Comments

No Comments Yet!

There are no comments at the moment, do you want to add one?

Write a comment

Write a Comment

Latest Issue of North Texas Daily

Twitter Feed

North Texas Daily @ntdaily
RT @JulianGillMusic: UNT faculty writes letter denouncing Trump Jr. speech https://t.co/3YhdotjrEm via @ntdaily
h J R
North Texas Daily @ntdaily
For more information from professors involved with the letter, you can also read it here: https://t.co/98t9evZy7c https://t.co/lTtNprp3y5
h J R