Playing for Mack, Hometown Crowd Led to Johnson’s UL Signing


photo by Matt Gadd

Trinity senior David Johnson soars during the junior Kentucky All-Stars game during the summer of 2018.

Matt Gadd , Editor in Chief

It came down to three.

After months of mulling over his decision, Trinity senior David Johnson was finally ready.  Johnson tweeted “#L1C4.”

He was staying home; he was going to attend the University of Louisville.

This pickup was huge for Louisville basketball, working to overcome myriad scandals and hiring a new head coach. But Johnson, the number-one player in Kentucky according to 247 Sports, is ready to help bring glory to his hometown university.

Johnson previously committed to Louisville at a Trinity football game but withdrew his commitment after sanctions were handed down to Louisville from the NCAA.

For a while Johnson was unsure where he would play collegiate basketball.  Xavier, coached then by Chris Mack, offered Johnson a scholarship. Johnson said, “(Coach Mack) told me how he was going to play me and even things I need to work on.”

Johnson is a really big believer in Mack, a major reason why Johnson decided to sign with UL once Mack became the Cardinals head coach. 

He’s one of the best practice players I’ve ever coached.”

— Trinity varsity basketball assistant coach Bret Saxton

Johnson’s final three schools were Xavier, Louisville, and Georgia. But the thought of playing in his hometown was very enticing. Johnson said, “Playing in front of my hometown really means a lot to me.”

Johnson committed to Louisville via Twitter on Sept. 22 and signed with the Cardinals Nov. 14 in Steinhauser Gym.

Johnson is very familiar with the UL team. He is friends with many players on the roster and upcoming players in the 2019 class. Johnson met these players by competing against them in AAU and training in Colorado Springs.

Johnson even befriended former Louisville player and current Utah Jazz pro Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell tweeted at Johnson, encouraging him to attend Louisville.

Teammate Stan Turnier is close to Johnson on and off the court. Their relationship started in the fourth grade, where they played basketball together. While others people tried to help Johnson, Turnier stayed away and let Johnson decide.

Turnier said, “Everyone was asking him, and I just wanted to leave him alone to decide. He would know what’s best.”

Turnier believes Johnson’s biggest factor in choosing Louisville was Mack. Turnier said, “Mack is a great coach, great recruiter and an overall nice guy.”

Turnier could have walked on at Louisville, but he chose to walk on at Georgia for several reasons, mainly his love for the campus, and his older brother already attends Georgia.

Trinity varsity assistant coach Bret Saxton attributes Johnson’s success to his work ethic. Saxton said, “He always wants to get better; he’s very coachable.”

Things started for Johnson freshman year when Lukas Burkman went down with an injury. Johnson had a big role in the offense with little experience. Saxton said, “He handled it well. No stage is too big for David.”

Praising Johnson’s court awareness and effort, Saxton said, “He’s one of the best practice players I’ve ever coached.”

While Johnson’s next stop is Louisville, he has his eyes set on the National Basketball Association.

Trinity varsity player Andrew Brian summed up Johnson’s skills: “He has always been a high-caliber recruit since I’ve known him. He has the same skills as a high-level point guard, great athleticism and height.  David is a leader on the team, and he helps on all areas on the court.”