NORTH PRESTON, NS–As a youngster, Christopher Johnson spent day and night shooting hoops on the outdoor courts in North Preston, Nova Scotia, dreaming of playing college basketball in the United States.
North Preston, a rural community in Halifax has a population of roughly 3700 people. It is the oldest and largest indigenous African Canadian community in Canada.
Johnson’s dream seemed unlikely to many people who believed that he didn’t have what it would take to make it out of Nova Scotia. To them, the NCAA seemed so far from those outdoor courts in North Preston, that it wasn’t worth dreaming about.
“I had a lot of doubters,” Johnson remembers.
Johnson began his high school basketball career at Auburn Drive High School, in nearby Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, the home of NHL superstar Sidney Crosby. Although Cole Harbour produced “Sid the Kid,” it isn’t exactly a recruiting hotbed for NCAA basketball programs to say the least.
After his grade 11 year, Johnson decided to transfer to Eastern Commerce in Toronto, with hopes of developing his game and gaining exposure. During his second and final year at Eastern, Chris received interest from many NCAA schools including, Villanova, St. John’s and Notre Dame.
However, due to poor grades he had to go the junior college route. After a very solid freshman season at Kilgore College (Texas) in 2008-09, it looked as if Johnson would undoubtedly get his chance to play NCAA basketball.
Unfortunately, midway through his sophomore year at Kilgore, he fractured his foot and was forced to miss the remainder of the season. Thankfully, Johnson had done enough before the injury to earn multiple scholarship offers to NCAA Division-1 schools.
In May, 2011, Johnson committed to St. Bonaventure University in Western New York.
The 6’5″ guard, Johnson, arrived at St. Bonaventure a little late due to eligibility issues, but everything is in place now, and he couldn’t be happier.
“I’m excited about being here! My teammates and coaches have been very supportive, and have shown a lot of confidence in me,” explained Johnson.
“I’ve been busy handling my schedule, meeting with professors, and getting caught up after missing the first week of school. I had to pass a physical on Wednesday before I could do anything with the team.”
One thing that excites Johnson about the upcoming season is the opportunity to play with 6’9″ Senior Andrew Nicholson, who is expected by most experts to be a late first or early second round pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
“I am excited to play with and learn from such a talented player, and Andrew is even a better person than he is a basketball player,” said Johnson.
St. Bonaventure now has three Canadians on their 2011-12 roster: Johnson, Nicholson and Matthew Wright.
Johnson is ecstatic to be a Bonnie, but he is also very happy for his mother, Elizabeth, who is very proud of him for sticking to it and accomplishing his dream.
“I couldn’t have made it without her support,” added Johnson. “She has always been there for me.”
Johnson is one of only two Nova Scotians who currently play NCAA Division-1 basketball, the other being Bryson Johnson, who is entering his junior season at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania.
Last season, Bryson Johnson helped lead Bucknell to the NCAA Tournament where they were defeated by eventual National Champions; University of Connecticut Huskies.
With the addition of this third Canadian to a progressing team, the Bonnies will look to make a major splash after a winning season (16-15) in 2010-2011.