The biggest story surrounding second-round pick Keyontae Johnson revolves around what happened to him on the court two and a half years ago.
In December 2020, Johnson collapsed on the court and was subsequently in a coma for three days. In the aftermath, he was offered an insurance settlement worth millions. Instead, he passed up on the guaranteed money for a shot to eventually make the NBA.
After totaling just five games in two seasons following his collapse, Johnson elected to transfer out of Florida to Kansas State for his senior season. In 36 games last season, he averaged 17.4 points on 51.6% shooting, 6.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists.
The NBA cleared Johnson to be eligible to be drafted after reviewing his heart condition — known as “Athlete’s heart” — on May 26.
The first question in most people’s minds when it comes to Johnson’s future is his health. After suffering a health scare of that magnitude, is it possible for him to play professional basketball for the long term?
All signs point towards yes.
In his post-draft press conference, Thunder general manager Sam Presti confirmed they did their due diligence on Johnson’s health and came away confident he’ll have a normal NBA career.
“In this particular case, the league is really the body that approves that. We were obviously very comfortable with all the information and the last week, you know, really, are the people that are saying he’s able to be drafted,” Presti said. “But we didn’t really have any concerns with that. We have seen all the information, the league’s seen all the information. So you know, you’re careful with every player but we feel really good about it.”
Thanks to modern medicine and medical professionals, Johnson will get the chance to live out his dream as an NBA player. It’ll be a tough battle as he fights to climb the roster totem pole. He will likely start his rookie season on a two-way deal and spend most of it in the G League.
With that said, his upcoming battle in staying with the NBA will look trivial compared to his previous battles and victories in overcoming his scary on-court incident and dealing with the aftermath of it.
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Source: Yahoo Sports