MHERST - The paperwork from Jovann Johnson arrived in Amherst Monday, officially making the 6-foot-2 guard from Wabash (Ill.) Community College a member of the University of Massachusetts men's basketball team.
Johnson, who will have two years of eligibility, is an athletic slasher with tremendous leaping ability, according to UMass coach Bruiser Flint.
"He's real good athletically," said Flint. "He plays bigger than he is because he's pretty strong. He's a good scorer and finishes at the rim."
Johnson is primarily a two-guard but could play the third-guard slot if UMass uses a three-man backcourt.
While the Minutemen toyed with the idea of running more last year, Flint admits that they "didn't have the personnel to do it." But the additions of Johnson and speedy point guard Shannon Crooks, coupled with the subtractions of slow-footed starters Lari Ketner, Ajmal Basit and Charlton Clarke, might enable UMass to quicken the tempo.
"We'll be able to run more. We have better guards and we'll be more athletic," Flint said.
Johnson originally hails from Johnson City, Tenn., where he led Science Hill High School to state titles his sophomore and junior years.
He did a year of prep school at Milford Academy, but opted for junior college in hopes of being recruited by a higher caliber college. He started at North Idaho Junior College, where he had a team high 18.9 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. He transferred to Wabash, where he averaged 18 points, five boards and three assists.
MHERST - University of Massachusetts head basketball coach Bruiser Flint announced yesterday that 6-foot-3 guard JaVonn Johnson, the top player at Wabash Valley Junior College last season, has signed an institutional letter of intent to attend the school next fall.
"I think his playing days are still ahead of him," said former Wabash Valley head coach Rich Hughes. "He came to us as a post player and at 6-3 we had to move him to his more natural position at the wing. He has a great work ethic, wants to get better and knows that you have to pay a price to achieve your goals."
Last season, Johnson, a Johnson City, Tenn., native, averaged 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists at Wabash Valley Junior College in Mt. Carmel, Ill.
Johnson led his team to a 19-12 record after a 9-10 start.
"I decided to go with UMass because I felt comfortable with the coaches and what they are trying to accomplish," Johnson said. "And the fact that UMass is a good team in a good conference."
"We're very excited JaVonn has decided to come to UMass," Flint said. "He is a scorer who can play the shooting guard and small forward positions. JaVonn plays the game with a lot of emotion and intensity, just the way we play it here at UMass. He should be a great fit for our program."