Johnson Steps Up for Canes Hoops
By Andy Fledderjohann
While the Miami men’s basketball season has been full of ups and downs, Zach Johnson has been a steadfast force for the Hurricanes. A graduate transfer who is playing in his first year for the Canes after earning his bachelor’s degree last year from Florida Gulf Coast, the Miami native has given the Canes a needed scoring boost as a well as veteran presence. He is second on the team in scoring at 12.6 points per game while playing in every game.
Earlier this season Johnson hit a major milestone as he scored his 1,500th career point in Miami’s Dec. 29 home victory over Campbell. He currently is one of just 16 active players in Division I men’s basketball with 1,500 career points and 350 career assists. Johnson currently owns 1,660 career points.
“It means everything, I’m blessed,” said Johnson of reaching 1,500 career points. “A lot of players don’t get a chance to score 1,000. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.”
Johnson has persevered through a nagging ankle injury. He recently sprained the ankle again on the day prior to the Canes’ matchup at then-No. 8 North Carolina and was doubtful to play. But just minutes before the game, Johnson deemed himself fit to play and put in a terrific effort, scoring 13 points and playing 34 minutes in Miami’s overtime battle with the Tar Heels.
“He wasn’t even supposed to make the trip, but our trainer (Javier Jimenez) said he could take care of him better on the road than he could at home. So he came, he was in a boot, and he said he wanted to try. He gave it a great effort.”
With a thin bench and just seven players in the rotation, the Canes’ players have been forced to play a lot of minutes, but the great effort has remained.
Man, we could watch this over and over…
SO. CLUTCH. pic.twitter.com/jf3WmzMbLN
— Canes Hoops (@CanesHoops) November 23, 2018
Johnson also is responsible for two of Miami’s most dramatic moments of the season. On Nov. 25 in the semifinal of the Wooden Legacy against Fresno State, he threw down a thunderous putback dunk with 0.6 seconds remaining in the second half to break a tie and lift the Canes to an 84-82 victory. He scored a season-high 24 points in the game. He was named to the all-tournament team at the Wooden Legacy after averaging 18.0 ppg in three games.
More recently on Feb. 13 against Clemson, with the clock ticking down, Johnson created a shot in the lane and hit a stepback jumper with 0.4 seconds left to push Miami to a one-point win, 65-64.
“When it hit the backboard, oh boy, then it spun around the rim a couple of times,” Larranaga said. “You know what? That’s got a chance and it went in.”
Man, we could watch this ALL DAYYYY. pic.twitter.com/7e7UVeKegg
— Canes Hoops (@CanesHoops) February 14, 2019