Chandler Johnson is one of the best players from the Poplar Springs, FL area in the Class of 2019.
The 6-foot, 155-pound Johnson, who attends Poplar Springs High School, is a dynamic player that works as a guard.
Johnson has earned plenty of recognition during his outstanding career, such as Defensive MVP.
Johnson is humbled by the accolades.
“Personal awards to me do not matter as much. Yes, it is an honor to be awarded and to have recognition for all of the hard work I put in. But the team awards mean so much more,” Johnson said. “Putting a banner in the ceiling has always been my main goal and the only award I wanted to win. All the personal awards are just little victories to help me reach my main goal.”
No matter the opponent, every game Johnson is determined to give it his all.
Johnson is going all out.
The motor is always at full throttle whenever Johnson steps between the lines.
“As a point guard my job is never over. After practice I’m watching film, texting players giving them advice, talking to coach about what I can do to be a better leader. You’re always leading and guiding and that’s why the point guard position is only made for certain people,” Johnson said. “It takes a lot of mental discipline to be a point guard. My mindset is to always have myself and my guys prepared to go out there for four quarters and battle.”
Johnson has great passion and energy whenever he’s on the hardwood. Johnson tells why he enjoys the game of basketball so much.
“Basketball was all I had. I had no father, my mother worked long hours at her job to provide for me, my sister and brother. So in a way it felt like basketball was my chance to show everyone that I could be something,” Johnson said. “That I was not going to be like my father. I was going to do something with myself. So that’s why I fell in love with basketball. I wanted to prove everyone wrong.”
Johnson has learned many valuable lessons from playing basketball that he applies to his everyday life.
The main one is applying perspective to all situations.
“It has taught me the more you put in the more you get out,” Johnson said. “You can practice for 30 minutes a day and be average or you can practice for two hours and be great. If you put in more effort you get more out of it.”
Johnson recalls his favorite basketball memory.
“My favorite memory is by far seeing my teammate hit a buzzer-beater to take down the number one team in our district,” Johnson said. “Everyone thought we were going to lose that game since we were the underdogs. To see him hit that shot made me the happiest man in the world.”
Jared Owen has coached Johnson for four years at Poplar Springs.
Owen explains the best parts of Johnson’s game.
“The No. 1 thing I like about Chandler as a guard is his ability to create. He has a knack for getting into the lane and making things happen for his teammates and himself,” Owen said. “We didn’t keep up with it, but I’m pretty sure Chandler led our team in paint touches as a driver. Chandler is really good at finishing around the rim in different ways which gives him an advantage once he gets to the rim.”
Johnson takes his role as one of the leaders on the team very seriously. Johnson makes sure he’s a daily positive influence on his peers.
“I know every single one of my teammates very well. Since every person is different the way you give criticism has to be different from person to person. You have to show tough love to some and to others they need you to guide them and push them in a positive tone for them to reach their full potential. So to me this is the best way I demonstrate being a good teammate,” Johnson said. “I feel the best advice I’ve given my teammates is that eventually ball will end. Whether you play four more years in college, or play in the NBA for 20 years. It comes to an end and you have to do something after. So I try to push and tell them that school is so important and you need to really try and keep your grades up. You need to go to class and study and always keep basketball a close second behind school.”
Owen adds that Johnson is one of those consummate teammates that every squad needs to be successful.
“Over his four years playing for me I’m not sure I saw a player grow as Chandler did. When younger he would get upset at himself and teammates and let it affect his play. What he learned over time was that getting upset happens. You miss shots or teammates miss plays. That’s sports and that is life. What Chandler did is learn how to respond to it and use it as a pick-me-up,” Owen said. “This year especially during practices and games Chandler would make a mistake and immediately go to the next play to win that play. This wouldn’t have happened when he was younger. When a teammate made a mistake you’d find Chandler picking them up and encouraging them. I was a great joy to watch him grow and become a leader for our team.”
Johnson is appreciative of having amazing male role models that are supportive.
“My coaches have been and will forever be the most influential people in my life. They truly made me believe I could do anything I wanted. They let me know that school was most important and if your grades slip you slip from the team. They taught me how to be a leader not only on the court but In life. They helped shape the man I am today and for that I’m grateful,” Johnson said. “The best advice my coach gave me was to be myself and let the rest happen. As long as I was myself I could never be a failure.”
Owen is an advocate of Johnson’s capabilities.
“One game this past year stands out and that was against Providence Christian in a Christmas Tournament. We got down 20 points and actually came back and won. The first half was especially bad for us. But, late in the first half Chandler sparked us by scoring eight straight points to close out the second quarter,” Owen said. “This cut the lead to under 20 and gave us a little momentum when we came back out the third quarter which led to us completing the amazing comeback. Everyone was struggling and he took it on himself to get us going.”
In addition to making clutch plays, Johnson also has a high level of basketball IQ as well.
Johnson has excellent basketball awareness that puts him in position to thrive.
“One area where I saw Chandler thinking through the game was on defense. He was always reading the offense and figuring out where they were going,” Owen said. “He was great at getting steals because he was understanding what the offense was going to do on the next play. He had 10 games of 3 or more steals.”
Johnson is on the grind to perfect and hone his craft in any way possible.
“Chandler loves basketball as much as anyone can,” Owen said. “If there is a game somewhere he’s going to be playing in it. One of the best ways to get better is to play pickup ball and Chandler is always down for that.”
Owen explains why he compares Johnson to this player.
“Chandler is without a doubt comparable to Draymond Green (the good Draymond). I say that because Chandler didn’t lead us in scoring every night, but always affects the game because he does a little bit of it all,” Owen said. “He has the ability to score in bunches (1/3 of our games he scored 15+). Chandler got rebounds, steals, and assists on a nightly basis. Whether he scored 20 or five, he had an effect on the game just like Draymond does for Golden State.”
Johnson patterns his mentality after this Florida panhandle legend.
“I look up to Trent Forrest from Florida State a lot. I grew up watching him dominate teams in high school and to see him at next level is amazing,” Johnson said. “It shows you that no matter where your from no matter your situation you can be great.”
Johnson is constantly striving for greatness in everything that he does.
“My goal on the court is to play four years of college basketball,” Johnson said. “My goal off the court is to become a pharmacist and help as many people as I can.”
Johnson lists history as his favorite subject in school.
“Learning about all the people who made America what it is today inspires me,” Johnson said.
Owen outlines the areas of improvement that will take Johnson to the next level.
“Chandler’s mentality on the court has improved greatly each year he has played. Him and I have had many heart to hearts (he’ll tell you too many) and he has grown tremendously,” Owen said. “I look for him to continue to grow as a leader and the things he has learned about controlling his emotions and knowing when to say what and pass those on to those he is around in the future.”
Owen believes the sky is the limit as long as Johnson continues to stay hungry.
“The thing that allows Chandler to compete with just about anyone is his versatility. He can defend, score, and get his teammates involved,” Owen said. “He was a really good and effective high school player that has the ability to play and succeed at the college level.”
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