For head coach Bob Huggins and the West Virginia men’s basketball team, the roster has gone through somewhat of an overhaul since the end of the 2020-21 season in March.
Guard Jordan McCabe — transferred to UNLV — and forward Emmitt Matthews Jr. —transferred to Washington — are both gone and Derek Culver and Miles McBride both pursued professional careers — McBride was chosen in the second round of the NBA Draft by the New York Knicks. Through the transfer portal and the return of some veteran players, the roster is set and the Mountaineers are on the cusp of tipping off the 2021-22 season.
Kedrian Johnson is one of those returning players for West Virginia that is still relatively unknown due to his lack of playing time last year. Johnson did appear in 26 games for WVU, but for the majority of the season, he played a backup role to McBride.
“Being able to sit back last year and actually watch Deuce put in the work and watch what he did, that actually built my confidence and he was kind of a role model to me,” Johnson said. “He helped me throughout the season.”
“[McBride] basically [taught me] maturity and staying ready and staying patient,” Johnson added. “Because a guy’s timing is always right.”
While McBride was averaging 34 minutes per game last year and was leading the team in scoring with 15.9 points per game, Johnson was patiently waiting on the bench. Johnson averaged 7.5 minutes per game and 1.3 points while providing valuable minutes on defense.
Johnson played two seasons at the junior college (JUCO) level at Temple College in Temple, Texas, before coming to West Virginia last year. Throughout his time as a head coach, Huggins has recruited junior college players for one specific reason.
“I like junior college guys because they’re used to eating a cheese sandwich and riding in a van,” Huggins said. “They’re not spoiled with all of the amenities that you have at a place like this. JUCO guys are just like ‘give me that cheese sandwich’.”
Johnson has earned his playing time for Huggins with his defensive ability and his speed on the court. Next to forward Gabe Osabuohien, Johnson is one of the catalysts when he’s on the floor for the WVU defense.
During the offseason this year, Johnson has been limited to a hand injury.
“Keddy (Johnson) got hurt early, but he’s played through it,” Huggins said. “He’s really been playing with one hand. He hurt his left hand so he can still shoot the ball and pass the ball with his right hand, but he hasn’t been well since real early.”
Johnson has been through that grind and now has the opportunity to elevate his position at WVU in his second season in Morgantown.
“To sum it up, we’re not used to handouts,” Johnson said about junior college players. “We’re used to being overlooked and I’ll say the junior college route is a real humbling experience.”