Here's another interview I recently did on Midland College Power Forward Karron Johnson and his mentor James "Shange" Black. The final copy of this interview may end up on www.thedraftreview.com.
My intent on doing this interview with Karron Johnson wasn't to make excuses for his past or try to make him look more appealing. If people want to read about his past, I'll post a few link about his life story at the end of the interview. Karron really impressed me before the interview by telling me that he preferred to do the interview over the phone to make it more authentic. He didn't want me to just send him the questions and allow him to sit and think about his answer like I originally intended to do. He offered to go more in depth about his story but I felt there was no reason to touch on topics that has already been discussed in previous stories done on him.
How would you plan on giving back if you were fortunate enough to make it in the game? I'd like to have my own AAU Oranization. I wasn't the best student in Middle School and High School. I never played school ball during those years while I was in Richmond. AAU basketball saved my life.
Who do you model your game after? Carmelo Anthony. He does an excellent job of mixing up his perimeter and post game.
Why did you choose Oklahoma State for your school? One of my former teammates at Patterson Academy (NC), Marshall Moses (Currently a Senior Power Forward at OSU) was a big influence on me wanting to attend Oklahoma St. The clincher was when I took my unofficial visit to OSU. I felt alot of love and felt like that's where I wanted to be.
What are your goals for this year? On the court, I want to lead my team to a 28-30 win regular season and lead my team to the National Tournament at Hutch. Off the floor, I want to continue to grow as a person.
What do you feel you have to do individually to help your team win the National Championship this year? Game to game I will have a different role. On some nights, I'll be called upon to focus on my rebounding. Other games, I may have to shut down the opposing team's top post threat. Our team is loaded and I have the luxury of focusing on doing whatever the team needs me to do and not focus solely on scoring.
Where do you see yourself in three years? I don't want to think that far ahead. I've been through alot and I just want to take life one day at a time. I could see myself being a legitimate player in the League contributing to my team on a nightly basis in the next three years.
Who's your favorite all time NBA team? College team? The 2003-04 Lakers team with Karl Malone and Gary Payton was my favorite NBA team. My favorite college team was the Clemson teams that were led by Point Guard Vernon Hamilton (Hamilton is a Richmond, VA native).
An associate of mine told me that your school, Midland College looks like a mid major Division One team. Who are some of the other top prospects on your team? Dwayne Davis (6-5 G/F from Philadelphia, PA), Dwight Miller (6-8, 245 pound Forward from Pittsburgh in the Big East) and James Madison University transfer Darren White.
What part(s) of your game do you think you could improve upon? What do you think you have to do to maximize your potential? I need to work on my decision making and ball handling skills. To maximize my potential, I need to clean up my image and continue to put in extra work (Running, lifting, etc)
What are your plans for life after basketball? I'd like to coach AAU and mentor kids who came from a similar background as myself. If I have the funds, I would like to invest in a community center where kids from all over Richmond could play at. Growing up, my neighborhood recreation center was closed down and kids didn't have a place to play when the weather didn't permit. That caused alot of kids to get into things they shouldn't have gotten into.
Who would you consider to be your mentor? My Mother. She raised two children on her own and she taught me everything I know.
What are you majoring in? Business Management
What do you plan on bringing to Oklahoma State next year? I plan on bringing energy, intensity, toughness and a go get it attitude.
Thank you for your time Karron. It was an honor to do the interview with you and I look forward to interviewing you later on in the year.
What I would like for Karron Johnson's critics to think about is this: How would a guy like Grant Hill, who the media celebrates (He deserves to be celebrated) have ended up if his Father was murdered at five years old and his Mother couldn't actively be a part of his life? Would he still be the same guy if he grew up in the projects of Richmond, Va instead of a well to do neighborhood in Northern Virginia? In no way do I want people to feel sorry for Karron. I just want people to take the time to try to understand why Karron is the way he is. He didn't have his Father around to protect him from the vultures in the game who exploited him. His Mother may have been willing to protect her son from people who wanted to exploit him but she wasn't able to due to her health. This led to Karron bouncing around from school to school. I don't want Karron to use his past as a crutch and I'll go on record to say that I would like to do whatever it takes to help this young man reach his potential so he can be a leader in the community and a mentor to young kids who grew up without a Father.
I would like to thank Karron's mentor James Black for allowing me to do this interview with Karron and Justin Phelps, a rising star in the Junior College game for introducing me to Mr. Black and Karron.
Karron Johnson interview link: http://www.tulsaworld.com/sportsextra/OSU/article.aspx?subjectid=93&articleid=20090525_93_B1_Karron616565
Karron Johnson highlights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vao_0_94ZHw
Here's a bonus interview on James "Shange" Black, Karron's mentor:
How long have you been involved with Karron and how did you come into his life? I have been involved with Karron since 2005. I was introduced to him by one of my former players current North Carolina Central University Point Guard Justin Leemow. Without him, I wouldn't be involved with Karron. Intially when I moved to Raleigh, Justin told me about Karron but at the time I felt I wasn't ready to mentor kids because I was burnt out from the game.
What changes have you seen in Karron since you became involved with him? I've seen Karron grow as a man and as a student athlete. Karron has taken more initiative to be involved with things that pertain to him instead of relying on myself or someone else to do it for him. As a student athlete, he is forming good habits and is on track to graduate from Midland College (TX) this spring.
Where do you see Karron in the next few years? I can see Karron being a lottery pick in the draft in a few years. I can also see Karron using basketball to transition into the business world. Karron has aspirations to open up Sports Complexes in Richmond, VA and Raleigh, NC so kids will have a place to play and have an alternative to the streets. He would also like to have an after school program. Karron doesn't want to solely make it for his own benefit. He wants to be able to take care of his family and be a good influence for the youth.
Tell us about your background and what business ventures you're currently involved in?
Karron and I both had rough childhoods. I lost my Mother (10 years) and Father (Life) to jail sentences when I was nine years old. I spent about six months in the Foster Care system before my Grandmother could adopt me. My Grandmother was older so she couldn't be as involved in my activiites as she would have liked. As a Junior at Franklin K. Lane High School, I was involved in an altercation with an older man that I got charged with attempted murder because I struck him with a brick to protect myself when he went after me with a gun. I beat the charge but it put a damper on that year because I was in and out of court. Prior to that incident, I was Honorable mention All PSAL and I was projected to be First team All PSAL my Senior year. Instead, I ended up going to Christ And Day Academy, a Prep School located in Massachusetts. After graduating from Christ and Day, I was going to attend Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY in the Fall but I had a few tradgedies occur: My Grandmother passed away and I was involved in a near fatal accident that left my right hand slightly paralyzed in addition to other injuries. After that career ending accident, a man by the name of Craig "Cat" Keys from the AAU organization New York Panthers took me under his wing and got me involved in AAU. From 2001-2005 I worked with Dwayne "Tiny" Morton (Morton is the Head Coach of Lincoln High School and coached NBA players Sebastian Telfair and Lance Stephenson) and the Juice All Stars and Kimani Young and the S. Carter Elite (A notable alumnus of S. Carter Elite is current Villanova Freshman Jayvaughn Pinkston). Feeling burnt out, I moved from South Jamaica, Queens, NY to Raleigh, NC in 2005 to get away from everything. Four months later, I met Karron. The rest is history. As far as what I'm currently involved in, I have an organization called Showtime Basketball (Named after his first cousin Daryl "Showtime" Hill, a star guard at St. John's). We have several D-1 prospects in the organization. Be on the lookout for us.
Any final thoughts? First of all I would like to thank my Wife for challenging myself and Karron to strive for excellence. She's the rock and foundation of my operation. I would also like to thank Oklahoma State Head Coach Travis Ford and Assistant Coach Butch Pierre for sticking by Karron through everything and speaking with him about things other than Basketball. Karron has been attacked for things beyond his control. He was placed in situations by people whos intentions weren't pure. So many different people are trying to come into our lives now. Where were they five years ago?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XypI-q1vaWw James Black interview