Keldon Johnson “same level” as great players Steve Smith has coached at Oak Hill

Keldon Johnson (Caroline Williams/USA Basketball)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Oak Hill (Va.) Academy coach Steve Smith knows how to evaluate — and appreciate — a special play.

“I have coached a lot of players, guys who have won the Naismith Trophy, become (NBA) lottery picks, been named player of the year (in college),” said Smith. “He’s that same level of player.”

The “he” is UK signee Keldon Johnson, a 6-4 guard who spent two years playing for Smith and Oak Hill.

“He’s really good. Part of the reason he doesn’t get more credit is that (Duke signees) Zion (Wiilliams) and R.J. Barrett get so much attention. But he can hold his own with anybody.”

Smith hopes Kentucky fans did not expect Johnson to be an all-star game scoring machine.

“He is not going to shoot every time he touches it no matter what. He is not that player,” Smith said. “He wants to win games, not score points. Some players want to be all-star MVP. He wants to win games.

“He was the same with my team — he just wanted to win. He came to us to lead and be on the best high school team he could be. He’ll be the same way at Kentucky.”

Leave a Reply