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Florida forward Keyontae Johnson guards Kentucky guard Ashton Hagans during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, in Gainesville, Fla. Kentucky defeated Florida 65-54. (AP Photo/Matt Stamey)

Keyontae Johnson: An Emerging Leader with a New Attitude

Keyontae Johnson came to Florida as one of the top athletes in the 2018 recruiting class. He was a four-star, ESPN Top-100 ranked talent looking to make an immediate impact on the Gators basketball team.

In his debut in last season, Johnson was part of the first freshman trio to start at Florida in nearly two decades, had six games with multiple 3-pointers and was Florida’s leading scorer and rebounder at the SEC Tournament.

Now, he is entering his sophomore year and looking to continue his success with the Gators.

A Change in Attitude

Johnson was aware that his attitude was an issue last season.

“I wasn’t taking what the coaches were saying to heart,” he said.

But he eventually saw the bigger picture.

Gators head coach Mike White has noticed the difference in Johnson.

“His biggest area of improvement has probably been his maturity,” he said. “Whether it was coming from me, an assistant or his teammates…you hear him out there sometimes telling a freshman or two, ‘Hey, take it, he’s trying to help you, I’m trying to help you.’ He’s just matured a lot pretty quickly.”

A Leader Emerges

Now that Johnson has a season of experience under his belt, he is using his knowledge and experience to guide the newer players.

“I try to tell the other guys in the locker room what to do, what the coaches like and everything,” he said.

The Norfolk native also has the help of fellow sophomores Noah Locke and Andrew Nembhard.

Johnson said he wants the younger players to adopt the same mindset he had last season.

“Last year, I didn’t really go in there like I was a freshman,” he said. “When I first came in, I did. But after I started getting the hang of it, I didn’t really worry that I was a freshman.”

Coach White said Johnson’s new level of maturity is what’s given him the confidence to lead others.

About Camille Woodhouse

Camille Woodhouse is a Sports and Media student at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. In the past, she has covered the Atlanta Falcons and Florida Gators football for various sports news outlets. She is an Atlanta native and a fan of football.

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