Juneau-Douglas senior forward Emily Johnson has accepted a scholarship offer to continue her basketball career with the University of Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks and first-year coach Dave Thompson.
"I went up to there for an official visit about a month and a half ago, and that's when they offered (the scholarship) to me," Johnson said. "I really like the campus, the team and the coaches. It's close to home, and I like how it's in-state. I really like some of the programs there, and I'm looking to go into something with sports management or sportsadministration.
"They have a minor program there that they're starting, so I'll probably major in business and then go to graduate school."
JDHS coach Lesslie Knight said Johnson's defensive prowess had several colleges interested in her.
"One of the things that the coaches in Fairbanks really like about Emily is her defensive abilities, and we use Emily as a defensive stopper," she said. "What they plan to do is very similar. They admired her fundamentals - especially on defense - and her ability to bump cutters, block out, deny passing lanes; she contributes on fast breaks for us and she is a good short-range shooter."
Thompson said in a Wednesday press release he expects the 5-foot-7 Johnson to contribute right away.
"Emily is a versatile and fundamentally sound player who will immediately help us," he said. "Emily has the ability to defend all positions extremely well, and her competitiveness will be an asset for our program."
Johnson is currently recovering from a torn ACL, which happened in late July during an AAU game.
But it won't keep her on the shelf much longer.
She already is close to being back on the court after having surgery in early August, and Johnson hopes to be practicing in December and playing by the time the Crimson Bears head to Colorado on a road trip Jan. 20-23.
"She won't have the green light to go until January," Knight said. "Right now, she's just rehabilitating the knee. She's able to run, cut and do a lot of movement already, so I think she'll be ready to start doing some light practicing in December. We're not really working on her game, necessarily, until she's fully recovered."
Joining Johnson at UAF will be an archrival Ketchikan guard Ciara Patton.
"The first thing Ciara will bring to any program is hard work," Kings coach Kelly Smith said. "She shoots the ball better than most high school girls anywhere. She's developed into a ballhandler, a solid wing player that can shoot the three and then attack the basket."
Johnson and Patton will look to help the struggling Nanooks rebuild. UAF finished 5-20 last season, including an 0-16 record in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. UAF defeated Hawaii-Hilo 66-65 in its season opener on Tuesday. The Nanooks currently have six players from the state of Alaska.
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