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November 18, 2011

Highly-touted Johnson signs with Golden Eagles

Woodford County senior is one of best in Kentucky

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Tech added a fourth early-period signee this week, receiving a National Letter of Intent from Jay Johnson, a 6-foot-7 forward from Versailles, Ky.

Johnson joins Shaqueille Calhoun (6-3, 180, Rome, Ga.), Anthony Morse (6-8, 210, Dacula, Ga.) and Eric Weisenbach (7-0, 195, Dublin, Ohio) on the Golden Eagles’ list of 2012 signees.

A senior at Woodford County High School, Johnson is considered one of the top players in the state of Kentucky. He averaged 20 points, 14 rebounds and six blocked shots as a junior and played for the KYA All-Stars during the spring and summer.

A knee injury that required surgery in July didn’t hurt Johnson’s stock in the eyes of Tennessee Tech head coach Steve Payne.

“He’s the best senior in the state of Kentucky,” the first-year Golden Eagle head coach said. “He can score inside and out, he can handle the ball and post up. He has no weakness, just that he needs to get healthy. I can’t wait to see how good he can be as his body continues to develop and he gets stronger.”

Johnson led Woodford County to a district championship in 2011 under head coach Scott Hundley, who sees his star player as one who will be able to be an immediate factor for the Golden Eagles.

“He’s going to come in right away and be ready to play,” Hundley said. “His sheer size is going to allow him to be successful, but he’s also got very good hands and a very good understanding of the game. I really respect (associate head coach) Happy Osborne and Tennessee Tech’s coaching staff, and I believe they’re a program on the rise and one that is going to be a force in the OVC. I think Jay can be the cornerstone of their freshman class next year and be a big part of helping them go in that direction.”

Johnson’s father, Lou, was Osborne’s little league baseball coach in Versailles, and Osborne has known Jay for some time. While his relationship with Osborne was a factor in his decision, Johnson had other reasons for choosing Tennessee Tech.

“I want to play right away, I don’t want to sit out like I would have to at a lot of places,” he said. “The coaching staff is great, and I’ve known Happy forever. He has been recruiting me since my sophomore year. I felt like I will fit in there.”

According to Hundley, another factor in Johnson’s decision could be the persistence of the Tech coaching staff in sticking with him through the knee injury.
“They told him the whole time, they are not even looking at the injury and believe he will come back 100 percent,” Hundley told the Louisville Courier-Journal. “They look at him as a really good piece of what they are trying to do there.”