EASTERN — Floyd Central High School boys’ basketball head coach Kevin Spurlock is anxious to follow one of his former players as he begins his professional career overseas.
Former Western Kentucky University star Justin Johnson became the latest Hilltopper to join the professional ranks in July when he signed with Italian program Cagliari Dinamo Academy.
Cagliari Dinamo Academy competes in Italy’s Serie A2 league.
Spurlock coached Johnson at Sheldon Clark and Perry County Central high schools.
“I’m very proud of Justin,” said Spurlock. “He’s excited to get overseas and start playing. He is going to bust his butt to continue to get better with his dreams still alive for the NBA. He’s always overcome his doubters. He’s got a great future ahead of him. He’ll make a good career playing professionally and eventually will make a great coach. Basketball is what he loves and because of his work ethic he will make a life of it. Justin is a special young man who set high goals and dreams and was willing to work to achieve those. That’s what makes him different than most.”
Johnson, a 6-foot-7 forward from Hazard, finished his college career ranked 10th on WKU’s all-time scoring list with 1,715 career points and fifth on the all-time rebounding list with 1,057 career boards. He’s one of five players in the WKU men’s basketball program’s history with at least 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds, and the first since Jim McDaniels in 1971.
Johnson led WKU in both scoring (15.7 points per game) and rebounding (9.4 per game) as a senior, becoming the first player to lead the team in both categories in three straight years since McDaniels from 1968-71.
He was named to the All-Conference USA First Team, the 2018 NIT All-Tournament Team and the Conference USA All-Tournament Team.
Johnson will have plenty of WKU company at the pro level next season. Heading into the 2017-18 campaign, there were nearly 20 former active Hilltoppers playing professionally in the United States and overseas.
A native of Martin County, Johnson is a Perry County Central High School graduate.