Karron Johnson Suspended At Midland

Karron Johnson has been suspended indefinitely from the Midland (Texas) College basketball team after playing in just nine games, assistant coach Jamaal Greene told GoPokes.com on Monday evening. The 6-8, 225-pound Johnson is considered by many to be the top junior college player in the country and he signed two weeks ago with Oklahoma State during the early signing period.

Johnson did not play in Midland's two games at the Angelina College Thanksgiving Classic last Friday and Saturday in Lufkin, Texas, Greene said.

"He's suspended indefinitely for now. It involves some internal matters. He's still a good kid, and he's still trying to get his work done (in the classroom)," said Greene, who refused to elaborate on the reason for the suspension. "Coach (Ross Hodge) felt that right now that's what needed to be done."

Johnson, who turned 21 on Nov. 15, has had off the court problems at several of the schools he has attended in recent years. He joined Midland College this year after leaving Moberly (Mo.) Area Community College where he was suspended by head coach Jay Spoonhour at one point in the 2009-10 season.

If he graduates from Midland (he must pass 18 hours this semester and 11 in the spring) and enrolls at Oklahoma State next year, it will be his sixth school in six years. He attended three different high schools in North Carolina – Laurenburg Prep, Mount Zion Academy and the Patterson School – before enrolling at Moberly Area Community College a year ago.

I visited with Johnson less than two weeks ago after Midland's first-round win over Seminole State at the Coffeyville Resources Juco Elite 8 tournament in Coffeyville, Kan.

"It's been a huge adjustment. To be honest, school's kinda tough at times. But you've got to fight through it. If I'm not able to go to school here I won't be able to attend Oklahoma State, which is my ultimate goal. So it's just something you've got to fight through," said the Richmond, Va., native about the adjustment to life in Midland, Texas.

Johnson knows that some of the decisions he's made in the past have not been good ones, and that he is viewed as a malcontent by many people who follow college basketball recruiting closely.

"To understand all of the things that have gone on in my life and where I've come from and the things I've been through, to understand why I've been to all these schools ... it's been tough for me. I just turned 21 and it's been a tough 21 years for me," he said. "I'm still in the process of trying to change these people's opinions about me, but it's just one step at a time.

"I want to change their opinion 100 percent but at the same time it doesn't really bother me because I know what I've been through and I know what I've accomplished. Maybe some people say I haven't accomplished anything but being the first person in my family to attend college is a big accomplishment. That's an accomplishment in itself.

"I just take it one day at a time and want to continue moving forward and not so much look back into the past. As you get older you change and mature," Johnson added.

Midland head coach Ross Hodge was talking about how Johnson was living up to all the expectations he had for him – both on and off the court – just two weeks ago.

"I would be lying if I said there wasn't some apprehension. But I had a chance to talk to people who really, really knew him; not observed him. They really knew him. I talked to the guy at Moberly and he assured me that he was not a bad person. He told me that he's not a kid who is going to go rob a liquor store, beat up a woman ... that is not him," said Hodge. "Some issues with being held accountable? Yes. Some issues with understanding that life doesn't always go the way you want it to go? Yes. But I know of a lot of guys like that.

"It has been an adjustment for him and that was one of the things we talked about prior to him coming here. That it wasn't going to be about solely basketball with him, which right, wrong or indifferent, I think a large part of his life has been that.

"And I think he's been allowed to, because he is so extremely talented, cut corners here, cut corners there (by people in the past). I think he's of age now where he's seen that it has not benefitted him. I didn't care if he came here and averaged four points a game, but when he was done here we wanted to make sure he graduated, we wanted to make sure he became a better person, a better teammate, and allow us the opportunity to go to bat for him, and say this isn't the same 18-year-old kid.

"He's made mistakes, (and) he's learned from it. It has been an adjustment for him but he's done everything we asked him to do. It hasn't always been easy for him and he hasn't always understood, and I think it has actually maybe taken away from his basketball game a little bit because he's doing a lot of these other things now but I think at the end of the day when it really matters, when it gets to January, February and March, and he gets used to doing all the things we're asking him, I really think he's going to be at a whole other level.

"I think we've been firm with him. I think we've been fair. When he's missed a class, when he hasn't worked as hard as he needs to on the practice floor, we've addressed them. Like I said, deep down inside I think he's been longing for that for a long time," Hodge said.

GoPokes.com's efforts to reach Hodge and Johnson for comment today were unsuccessful.

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