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Coach Vic's Corner: Catching up with Tihon Johnson

By Victor Dandridge, 01/23/17, 10:15AM EST


Coach Vic's Corner continues with an interview with East great Tihon Johson

Coach Vic's Corner is a weekly series featuring interviews with some of Central Ohio's greatest basketball players in history. Coach Victor Dandridge talks with some of Ohio's legends on the hardwood.

Tihon Johnson is a legend of the underground in Columbus. One of the most talented ball handlers and scorers to ever come out of the City League, Johnson has been on a journey that has taken many twists and turns, taking him to many different parts of the world. 

A terrific ambassador for basketball in Columbus, Johnson shares with us many lessons and stories from his prolific high school basketball career at Centennial and East. 

What is the greatest game you can recall from your high school career?

My senior year we beat Cambridge to go to the state. It wasn't my best statistical game but they were tough. More importantly, it was the town and high school my mom was from.

Who was the best opponent you faced in high school?

Kevin Martin (Zanesville/Western Carolina/NBA)

Who was the hardest player for you to guard?

Devin Green gave me problems on the block.

Who guarded you better than anyone else?

Chris Blakely and Cyrus Smith

Is there a particular play or moment from high school that you can recall like it was yesterday?

District title game, we were short-handed and down double digits going into the fourth. I remember seeing the trophies on the table and telling myself those were ours. After that I turned up, went on a scoring spree and banged it on their 6-foot-10 guy on the last play of the game.

What was your signature move?

I did a gang of moves back then but my signature move was a long left to right cross.

If you could change anything from your high school days what if anything would that be?

I wouldn't have been in the streets. I would've went to class, done my work, qualified and graduated. If not for being on probation by the courts, I would've dropped out of high school my sophomore year. After two years of hooping, I got a scholarship from Hampton with a 1.0 gpa and tenth grade credits as a senior. I would've taken time to consider my senior year transfer. I enjoyed playing with my friends and repping the school in my hood but I don't know how much it benefit me in the long run. The coach at Centennial, where I played my junior year, had a rigorous academic plan setup for me to be able to graduate on time. But I wouldn't have been able to go to practice. I would've had to go to night school each grading period. I wasn't disciplined enough to do that. I probably would've averaged 35+ and went anywhere in the country. I didn't understand the magnitude of that decision. I ended up having to go to continuation school after I didn't graduate. I then went on a visit and got offered by Iowa State but would've had to prop 48. I couldn't fathom sitting out two years straight. (Another regretful decision) I went on to be a juco All-American and made the same academic mistakes. I was doing just enough academically and it bit me again. I was getting recruited by many of the best basketball schools including the No. 1 team in the country that won the 'chip that year. I got offered by Baylor and Coach Drew wanted to give me the keys. There was only one problem, my transcript! I also would've worked out (lifting and skill work) every morning or every evening all throughout the year in high school. I had the drive to get better but not the access and wherewithal to do so. 

What would you change about today's high school game?

In Ohio particularly, a shot clock. I believe it's a disservice to the kids that will play collegiately. Concerning the players, the fundamentals and understanding of the game

In the prime of your high school career how would you fare against today's top high schoolers?

Murder! I believe I would've killed in any era! Too much in my bag. God blessed me with heart and a knack to score.

What advice would you give to today's high school players?

I would advise that they respect the game and all those that afford them the opportunity to play. I would advise that they fall in love with preparation because you get out what you put in. I would advise that they study the game; their own game, the past and the present. I would advise that they have an unshakable confidence/belief in themselves and their ability. I would advise them to remain teachable. Take care of your body. Be ultra-competitive. Don't feel entitled. To be able to play this game is a privilege not a right. Use the game don't let the game use you! AND HIT THEM BOOKS!

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