By: Jessica Ryan ‘19
It is extremely rare that a men’s basketball team prides itself on rebounds over points. Forward Sam Johnson ‘17, averaging 15 rebounds per game, makes a statement about the importance of rebounding through his exemplary performance.
Johnson’s 27 boards in one game against Western New England University was a national high in Division III this year. The senior also took the national lead in rebounds per game, and he leads the Commonwealth Coast Conference in total rebounds by over 100. Johnson was also in the running for D3 Men’s Basketball HERO Of The Week, and has multiple Athlete Of The Week awards. Last year he led the conference in double-doubles and continues to put tremendous effort in helping his team qualify for the CCC 2017 playoffs.
Johnson credits his mentality before coming to college that started his success.
Before every home or away game, Johnson greets his father in the stands before competing on the court. His father has been supporting him his whole life, including in his basketball career.
Cape Cod Academy, a small school in Chatham, MA, was the starting place for Johnson. Not only did he score his 1,000th point on the basketball court, but he also excelled on the field. He played soccer, baseball and golf for the Seahawks.
Before arriving to Wenham, however, Johnson took a pit stop along the way. Johnson transferred to Gordon from Endicott College three and a half years ago.
“There were 28 guys on the team,” said Johnson, “and two of them were seniors.” Another reason for leaving was the off-court chemistry. “Off the court we weren’t connected,” he said. “I was recruited by Gordon previously and already talking with Coach Murphy” said Johnson. Coming to Gordon would be a better fit.
After joining the program, he helped the Scots win the 2014 Commonwealth Coast Conference Tournament Championship. During his first two years, he had to play behind one of the best players, Hans Miersma ‘15, a 6’9” forward. Since then, he has made a name for himself by breaking Gordon’s NCAA-era rebounding record previously set by Miersma two years prior. From there, his rebounding has only improved.
This past summer, Johnson had the opportunity to take part in the Global Sports Academy in Spain. “I gained a lot of confidence going up against guys just as big as me,” said Johnson. Playing against Division I, II, and III, players helped him to grow his game.
“There are some things that you can teach a player to make him a better rebounder, but I have nothing to do with the instincts that Sam has to get to the basketball. He reacts to a basketball coming off the rim as quickly as any player I have ever coached,” said Coach Tod Murphy.
Not only has Johnson made a name for himself on the court, but off of it as well. “He has blossomed as a leader, both on and off the court. He has always been a leader off the court because of his friendly nature, and his desire to always help out a teammate,” said Murphy.
“Sam is a conscientious student, strong leader and adds fun and energy to the classroom!” said Kinesiology Professor Valerie Gin. “He sets high goals for himself and works hard to achieve them. He cares about others and has wholeheartedly embraced the philosophy of the Recreation Sports and Wellness major of ‘enhancing the quality of life for all.”
Johnson is a double major in Business and Recreation Sport and Wellness, with a Sport Studies concentration and maintains a high GPA. He is also a member of SAAC (Student Athletic Advisory Committee). Each committee is made up of student-athletes assembled to provide insight on the student-athlete experience and offer input on the rules, regulations and policies that affect student-athletes’ lives on campus.
After Gordon, Johnson plans to stay with sports and venture down to Florida where he will join ESPN’s year-long sport management program.
As this chapter of his life is coming to a close, Johnson wishes to remind students, “School goes by so fast,” he said. “Don’t take it for granted.”