Johnson’s “pass-first, score-whenever” style sparks SMCC upset

January 31, 2017

Desmond Johnson basketball

Desmond Johnson

Anchorage’s Desmond Johnson played a crucial role to help South Mountain knock off the league leaders to earn the hoops team’s signature win in the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference.

The 5-foot-10 sophomore guard pumped in 21 points to go with a game-high 10 assists in a 100-99 victory over Arizona Western in Phoenix, Arizona.

Johnson, of East High fame, sank 6-of-13 field goals and 9-of-14 free throws. He added four rebounds and four steals.

“I just look for my teammates and score whenever I can,” he told me. “I’m a pass-first, score-whenever type of guy. I just go out there and try to do anything and everything I can to help my team win.”

It was just the second league win of the season for South Mountain [10-11, 2-11], who started the season without Johnson.

Now that he’s back in the lineup, South Mountain is a threat to win every night.

Johnson is averaging 16.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 7.6 assists in nine games. He has one triple-double and two double-doubles since his return.

He credited his coaches and teammates for keeping him in game shape behind the scenes, including older brother Xavier Johnson.

“Going to the gym early and working,” Johnson said.

The former Alaska all-state playmaker manages to score despite lacking a perimeter game, thanks to defense and a get-to-the-rim mentality. One-third of his points [53/152] have come from the foul line.

“My scoring more is more of my coaches and teammates trusting me to just be aggressive all game long,” Johnson said.

His aggressive style translates to the defensive side of the ball, where he averages 2.0 steals per game.