Multi-talented Johnson signs with Middle Tennessee

April 20, 2006 · MT Media Relations
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The rapport Middle Tennessee men's basketball coaches developed with Nigel Johnson as a prep standout at Wooddale High School in Memphis paid off two years later when the highly-regarded guard signed a scholarship agreement with the Blue Raiders Wednesday.

Johnson, a freshman at Tallahassee Community College, became the third player to sign with Middle Tennessee, joining guard Demetrius Green (Daytona Beach Community College), and center Jay Ivey (Owensboro Catholic High School).

Johnson, who carries a 3.36 grade point average, will have three years to play for Middle Tennessee after earning his associate degree in one year. Johnson said the Blue Raiders were high on his list coming out of Wooddale High School but when things didn't work out in the recruiting process he opted to attend Tallahassee for one year rather than pursue other scholarship offers.

"Middle Tennessee recruited me in high school and that's where I wanted to go but things didn't quite work out," Johnson said. "I just figured I would go to Tallahassee for a year and then go to a good school so I'm excited to be going to Middle Tennessee now. It's a good fit for me and it's not too far from (Memphis) so my family can see me play. It's a good program and they are doing exciting things. I'm excited to be part of it."

Middle Tennessee Head Men's Basketball Coach Kermit Davis said the Blue Raiders are getting a quality player and person, who has the tools to make a difference in the program.

"Nigel is a talented, solid guard that can play all three guard positions," Davis said. "He's very unselfish. He's a great shooter, has great character, and he will fit in with our team very well for three years. You are getting a talented player and a guy with great character who has played for two outstanding coaches (Eddie Barnes at Tallahassee and Thomas Johnson at Wooddale), which has really helped his progress.

"Nigel's mom and dad, Evelyn and Otis, have done a great job with him. They are great character people and it shows with their son. He's just a well-rounded person who comes from a great family."

In addition to basketball, Johnson said he has great interest in Middle Tennessee's nationally-renowned Recording Industry Management (RIM) program. The multi-talented Johnson plays the saxophone, keyboard and mixes music.

"I love music and music production and Middle Tennessee has one of the best programs in the country in that field," Johnson said. "Middle Tennessee is a place where I can be part of a great basketball program and get the best I could hope for in the music program. It's a win-win situation. I also liked the campus and Murfreesboro, in general. I'm really looking forward to it."

Davis said Johnson's versatility is one of his great assets.

"Nigel Johnson is a very good student and he has a great interest in our RIM program," Davis said. "Not only is he talented on the court, but he's very talented in the classroom and with his music. (Assistant coach) Al Pinkins had a great rapport with Nigel and his family and that helped in the recruiting process."

Johnson helped lead Tallahassee Community College to a 31-4 record and an appearance in the NJCAA National Championship for the first time in school history in 2006. The Eagles suffered a 68-59 setback to Arkansas-Fort Smith in the title game. If not for Johnson's heroics Tallahassee would have never made its memorable postseason run to the national junior college tournament for only the second time in program history.

Johnson connected for the game-winning 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds remaining to give Tallahassee a riveting 98-96 win against rival Chipola in the NJCAA Region VIII Championship and send it into the NJCAA Tournament in Hutchinson, Kan. Johnson scored the Eagles' final eight points in that win and finished with 19.

He was named honorable mention All-Panhandle Conference after helping lead Tallahassee to the league championship. Johnson averaged 92 points and led the team in free throw percentage (.769), assists (3.2) and was third in rebounding (4.4).

Success is nothing new to Johnson, who teamed with Wooddale High School coach Thomas Johnson to build a winner at the west Tennessee school. Prior to coach Johnson's hiring five years ago Wooddale went winless on the hardcourt.

Coach Johnson was in place for the following year in 2002-03, which also happened to be Nigel Johnson's sophomore year. Wooddale put together three straight 20-win seasons and won a region championship. Nigel Johnson participated in the 2005 Memphis All-Star Classic and was named to the 2005 Best of the Preps/All-Metro Class AAA Team by the Memphis Commercial Appeal. He was named MVP of the Regional playoffs and was a three-time (2003, 2004, and 2005) Tennessee All-State Honorable Mention selection by the Associated Press. Johnson, who was rated as the sixth-best shooting guard and No. 36 overall prospect in Tennessee by HoopScoop following his senior year, also earned All-District and All-Region honors at Wooddale.

"At Wooddale, Nigel played for Coach Johnson, who is one of the best high school coaches in our state. He turned a team around that had not won a game the season before," Davis said. "Then he went to Tallahassee and played for one of the best junior college coaches in the country in Eddie Barnes and he helped lead his team to a national championship game and the Panhandle Conference Championship. Nigel Johnson is a talented player and having the opportunity to play for two outstanding coaches has aided his development."

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