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Monday, January 24, 2022

Garfield’s Koren Johnson Has Fire In His Heart And A Passion To Be The Best

Garfield senior Koren Johnson hopes to lead his team to another state championship. (Photo courtesy of Terrell Elmore)

By RayJaun Stelly, The Seattle Medium

The last time many Seattle hoop fans saw Garfield’s Koren Johnson play he was hoisting the state 3A basketball trophy over his head as a member of the Bulldog’s 2020 state championship team. Fast forward to 2021, Johnson, a 4-star athlete ranked by ESPN.com, moved to Mount Pleasant, Utah to attend Wasatch Academy – a national basketball powerhouse – for a short period of time before returning home to Seattle. 

According to Johnson, his return to Garfield was simply a personal decision amongst Johnson and his family.

Upon reuniting with his loved ones in Seattle, Johnson made additional waves by decommitting from San Diego State University. With scholarship offers from schools such as San Diego, Pepperdine, Montana, Loyola Marymount, Washington State, Arizona, and Washington, coaches wondered where Johnson would land. In November, Johnson announced that he would stay home for college and committed to the University of Washington.

“It’s home, I know the coaching staff very well, and want to turn the program around next year,” said Johnson.

The announcement was fitting, as a case can be made that Johnson bleeds purple. Born and raised in Seattle’s Central District, Johnson attended Washington Middle School, whose colors are purple and white, Garfield, whose colors are also purple and white, and now it appears that he will wear the purple and gold of the University of Washington next year. This couldn’t be scripted any better than that if you’re from the state of Washington.

His time away from Seattle, along with his AAU experience last year, have played a huge role in Johnson’s development heading into his senior season at Garfield. With his AAU Teams – Seattle Rotary and Dream Vision – being on the Nike and Adidas circuits, Johnson was able to identify his strengths and weaknesses playing against the best high school athletes in the county.

With his senior season about halfway over, Johnson’s mindset is winning everything from individual accolades to hoisting another trophy to become a two-time champion in four years.

“I want every accolade there is from Gatorade Player of the Year, Mr. Basketball, Metro League most valuable player, and winning state,” said Johnson.

Although they are currently undefeated with a 10-0 record (6-0 in Metro), Johnson and the Bulldogs remain hungry. They recently beat the previously unbeaten and then top-ranked Auburn in their holiday tournament. Johnson scored 27 points in front of a packed gym with endless highlights throughout the 32 minutes that he played. Johnson was named MVP of the tournament, averaging 18.5 points, 3 rebounds, and 5 assists in four games.

Last Saturday, Garfield beat Eastside Catholic 87-54, and will put their undefeated record on the line against their next Metro League opponent, O’Dea, who is also undefeated in league play.

“It’s a Kobe mindset mixed with hard work, we can’t win a couple games and get comfortable,” said Johnson. “We have to stay hungry like we’re not winning and keep improving every day at practice and in games.”

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