Fans of De’Jhon “Biggz” Johnson will not have to travel far to see him continue to dazzle on the basketball court after the Lima Central Catholic graduate signed to play with the University of Northwestern Ohio basketball team Thursday.
Surrounded by family, friends and former teammates, Johnson, who got emotional during the signing, said he was excited about playing at the next level and in Lima.
“It’s pure emotion, and it feels good,” Johnson said. “I worked hard for this, and it is nice to know I have somewhere to go and staying close to home.”
At LCC, Johnson averaged 18.1 points a game his senior season and was a second team All-Northwest Ohio Division III selection and an a third team All-Ohio Division III choice. He finished eighth all-time on the LCC scoring list with 964 points and had 295 career assists and 262 career rebounds.
“I have a lot of resources and a lot of people for me here, and I think it is going to be a good experience,” Johnson said.
Johnson added that one of the main factors of him deciding on UNOH was he can play with Elijah Pughsley, the former Lima Senior standout, as well as with newly recruited Ben Westrick from Ottawa-Glandorf.
“Elijah Pughsley is like a big brother to me, and Ben Westrick is going there also, and I’ve played couple of games with him also,” Johnson said. “I mean it is going to be fun. I have a lot of support, and I think a lot of people will come to our games.”
Caleb Williams, the UNOH head coach, said Johnson is a good fit for the program.
“The biggest thing about Biggz is he wanted to come to UNOH,” Williams said. “He reached out to us. At the time we had our top seven returners in scoring in minutes played and guard wasn’t a huge priority for us but then with the covid we had one (player) leave. We were looking late, and he reached out, and he was persistent. Guard wasn’t necessarily a huge priority for us and then it became one, and we found the right guy in the right place.”
The signing of Johnson is a continuation of Williams recruiting more local talent from the area.
“From day one I have wanted to build from the inside out, and we think he is the next piece to making sure that happens, and we feel like he is the guy not only to help us this year but in the future.”
Williams added that the Racers have two senior guards so Johnson will have to work his way into minutes but expects him to be a major part of UNOH’s future.
“He can learn this year and then progress into a bigger, bigger role as his career progresses, and we are looking forward to that,” Williams said. “With Biggz coming this is the icing on the cake. He cares. He wants to represent Lima, and I think it is going to be a great partnership as he continue to see him grow.”
LCC head coach Frank Kill said he has watched Johnson develop over the years and feels he can excel at UNOH.
“He grew so much at the high school level especially his senior year and recognized what his strengths were and continued to build on those and also on his weaknesses,” Kill said. “The college game is so much more physical. It is faster, and he is going to have to be a student of the game. I think he can go from one level to another level. He has a lot of potential.”
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.