With Juston Johnson’s path to the basket in Western New York sealed off because he’s out of eligibility, the star guard has left West Seneca West for a Tennessee prep school.
Johnson has enrolled in Tennessee Preparatory Academy in Memphis and played in two basketball games last weekend for the Diplomat Lions, his father Demeris Johnson told the News.
The elder Johnson said Tennessee Preparatory school was the first to express interest in Juston and was willing to wait for the eligibility process to conclude. On Dec. 18, the State Supreme Court dismissed Johnson's appeal of a Section VI decision that he had used all his eligibility in the sport.
“They play in the No. 1 prep school circuit. Every time they take the court, Juston will be playing against four- and five-star players,” Demeris Johnson said.
Tennessee Prep is a small Christian school that formed in 2015. It's varsity basketball team plays games every weekend and travels the country, having played in Minnesota, North Carolina, New York City, Kentucky and Atlanta this season. The Diplomat Lions' varsity roster consisted of just nine players, including one from Memphis, before the addition of Johnson. Tennessee Prep is 7-5 on the season.
Johnson helped West Seneca West win the Section VI Class A championship last year with a 24-1 record. The Indians suffered their only defeat in the state quarterfinals to Section V champion Irondequoit. Johnson earned first team All-Western New York after averaging 24.8 points, 8.0 assists, 7.3 rebounds and 3.4 steals per game.
The 18-year-old likely would have been one of the top players in the area and a difference-maker for a good West team had his eligibility appeal been granted. He was denied by Section VI and the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association, leading the Johnsons to take their case to the courts.
In court documents and interviews with the News, Johnson and his family say that a broken arm he suffered playing pickup football before the start of his eighth-grade year prevented him from attending school and from being able to take a required fitness test.
Because Johnson played junior varsity basketball as a seventh-grader, the section and state consider that the start of his eligibility window. He had six consecutive years to compete in the sport. Sitting out eighth grade and being home schooled only to have to repeat eighth-grade due to paperwork issues the following academic year didn’t meet the criteria for an eligibility extension, officials ruled.