Commodore Commit Excited to Join Program

While it was not necessarily a surprise, many Vanderbilt faithful were overjoyed by the commitment of Marshall County (TN) star Kedren Johnson to the Commodores a few weeks ago. The 6-4, 213-pounder is the best point guard to pick the SEC program since Mario Moore in 2002 according to the Scout.com rankings.

"It's basically just my relationship with the coaches and my mom's a school teacher so she's real big on ac "It's basically just my relationship with the coaches and my mom's a school teacher so she's real big on academics," Johnson said of how he decided on Vanderbilt. "I felt comfortable when I went there on my visits and the chemistry I had with the dudes, the players, and it felt right. I was comfortable there."

Johnson opted not to take all of his allotted official visits before making his commitment. He took two visits, first tripping to Vanderbilt and then taking in Alabama the next weekend.

"I had a Florida visit scheduled for the week that I committed," Johnson said. "I committed on a Wednesday and I was scheduled to go on a Friday and Billy Donovan came down like two nights before or one night before."

Why did Johnson opt not to go through with the visit to Gainesville?

"I mean it's because I had my mind made up and when I found out where I wanted to go, [I figured I would get rid of] stress, and headaches, and loss of sleep and get focused on wining a state championship," Johnson explained.

While Johnson had a final four, there were really two schools that were in the mix at the very end. "It was Florida, Louisville,

Alabama, and Vanderbilt," Johnson said. "It kind of came down to Florida and Vanderbilt."

Unlike some of his other finalists, Vanderbilt is not exactly known for landing big-time basketball players.

"I mean in the past when people recruited me the knock on Vanderbilt was they didn't produce pros. But how many pros they really have in their program? That's not really a big thing," Johnson said of whether being such a major recruit for Vandy is special. "I could of easily committed to Louisville or Florida and gotten a pat on the back for going to play for Rick Pitino or Billy Donovan, but Vanderbilt is a better fit for me."

Considering Vanderbilt was the only in-state program on his final list, was the proximity to home a factor for Johnson?

"During the recruiting period [when] I was deciding on schools, distance wasn't too big of a factor," Johnson said. "I wouldn't have no problem being away from my family, but I know they want to come see my play so I had to throw that in there."

Johnson said he was primarily recruited to Vandy by assistant coach Dan Muller, but head coach Kevin Stallings got more and more involved as time progressed.

"Towards the beginning he kinda left it to coach Muller because he wanted me to establish a good relationship with him," Johnson said of Stallings. "Towards the end he was in my gym all the time [and] . . . he started appearing more towards the end of the AAU circuit."

In addition to his relationships with members of the Vanderbilt coaching staff, Johnson also knows sophomore shooting guard John Jenkins quite well.

"Just like probably during my junior season is when John started texting me and stuff and we started talking, getting a relationship," Johnson said of whether Jenkins recruited him to Vandy. "So, I mean he just wasn't really talking to me strictly as a recruit, [rather, it was] kinda on a friend basis, but once we got cool we [started to] talk about everything."

Johnson, who is undecided on a major and plans to discuss ideas with his mother, is extremely excited to be a part of the Vanderbilt basketball program.

"It's really exciting, I can't explain how excited I am to rep middle Tennessee and Tennessee in general," Johnson said. "Me being from around here, it'll be a really big deal. A lot of my family gonna be [able to] there, a lot of my friends gonna see me play. People who supported me who I don't really have no connections with are gonna see me play."

This was roughly the time that Johnson had been planning to get his decision out of the way, as he has other things to worry about.

"I had been planning to, ever since I started my recruitment, I said I'd end it before my senior season started so my senior season I'm completely focused so I can get my team prepared for ins and outs of the season."

Asked if it was hard to sort through what recruiters were telling him and see what was true en route to a decision, Johnson replied, "All of them always gonna tell you what you want to hear. They're recruiters, that's what they paid to do, that's what they gonna tell you [and so] . . . I'm not gonna say any of them were too honest, but all of them wanted what's best for me."

Johnson has a few goals for his collegiate career already, both on and off the basketball court.

"Goals: win, win, and every basketball player [is] gonna say NBA, but if I'm not—I think I'm gonna get to the NBA because I know myself because I know how hard I'm gonna work—but if I'm not fortunate enough to get to the NBA, get a degree from Vanderbilt," Johnson said. "[With that] I can do whatever I want, and that's another reason why I chose Vanderbilt. I know it's probably kind of weird to hear a 17-year-old say that."

Does Johnson have any personal goals for his collegiate career? "Not really, just cuz I'm such a team player," he said. "All I want to really do is win, get better every day, but hopefully we [are] gonna get better as a team every day, but the main thing is winning. Everything is a lot more fun . . . when you're winning."

Johnson also has some goals for his final year of high school basketball, as there are two main things he wants to accomplish.

"I came close to getting Mr. Basketball last year so I'm hoping to snag that one and then [to get a] state championship," Johnson said. "My school never won that. Hopefully I can be the first one to do that so my name can rings bells when I leave."

One of the things that makes Johnson such a special player is his height at the point guard spot, and it is something he thinks really helps him.

"Man it's tremendous, like all of [the schools were] talking about [that] when they were recruiting me," Johnson said. "They were saying, ‘If you were 5-10, I don't think you would fit into our program, but you're 6-4." My size, that's how I play, [I use] my size, posting up smaller guards, but when a big comes out to guard me I'm too fast . . . Nine times out to 10, I'm the one imitating the contact."

One thing that Johnson's size also leads to is the question of whether he is a point guard or shooting guard.

"All of the schools that were recruiting me—Florida started recruiting me as a combo guard, Louisville started recruiting me as a combo," Johnson said. "Vanderbilt always wanted me as a one, Alabama wanted me as a one, but after the AAU season all the schools wanted me strictly as a one. Cuz you know, you hear a 6-4, 213-pound point guard, but after seeing me play it's kinda obvious I'm a point guard."

"Strongest point of my game is probably my distributing, well my decision-making, I'm gonna say that," Johnson said of his main strengths on the floor. "I'm pretty good at picking who to pass to at the right times and [to also] get myself involved a little bit, when to score and when to distribute."

As for his main weaknesses, he remarked, "[One of the] weakest points of my game is my jumpshot. It is improving a lot so I'm not gonna . . . really say that. [I will say] guarding the little bitty jet fast guards, getting down and staying with them. I've improved a lot—you probably think I can stay with them—but I think I can get better."

One player who is considered to have a great jumper is Shelby Moats of Waconia (MN), Vanderbilt's other 2011 commitment.

"I really don't know him. I guess I played him this summer, we did play the Minnesota Pump ‘N' Run," Johnson said of Moats. "I've heard of the school he plays for [and also] I do remember a big, white, left-handed dude who can shoot, but I can't really tell you what he looks like. I remember we had to get someone on him, but from what I remember he was real good."

Johnson went on to also say of his future Commodore teammate, "I heard he can shoot, like for real."

Are there any players who Johnson is planning to recruit to join him in Nashville for college?

"I'm kinda close with Tony Parker [a 2012 big man] from Atlanta, Georgia, Miller Grove High School," Johnson said. "He was on my AAU team this summer. We got pretty close this summer and [also 2012 forward] Alex Poythress from Clarksville Northeast. I played on his AAU team with him last summer and we got real close."

As with all talented basketball players, Johnson is also a normal kid off the floor and he discussed some of the things that people do not know about it.

"Well it's two things. I'm a people person. I don't really like being alone," Johnson said. "I really like being around my friends, I like conversing, socializing. And I'm a big music person; I'm in love with music. Every time I wake up I'm listening to music, and whenever I have a break I'm listening to music, [whether it is] . . . before I got to sleep, before I wake up. Anytime I have free time I probably have music playing. Even if it's not free time I probably got music playing."

On what types of music he likes, Johnson commented, "I like the new artists like Drake, I like Lil' Wayne, I like Jay-Z, Trey Songz. I don't know, it's a bunch of them." Asked if he had a message for Vanderbilt fans before getting off the phone, Johnson replied, "Get ready to have some fun; it's gonna be exciting, it's gonna be exciting."

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