Memphis Tigers junior guard Geron Johnson has quite a reputation. He has been kicked out of two junior colleges in back-to-back years after run-ins with police. He was arrested his junior year of high school for attempted burglary after he and two others had been caught trying to break into an apartment. During his freshman year of high school, Johnson was dismissed from the team after an arrest for marijuana possession led to a short jail term.
With such a background, you would understand why a college coach would not want Johnson as a member on their team. But Tigers head coach Josh Pastner felt Johnson deserved an opportunity.
“I did a lot of homework on him, and he obviously made some mistakes. But I really felt with the proper structure and discipline, he could succeed,” Pastner said in the Commercial Appeal. “We have good guys and I thought they’d be really good influences on him.
“Yeah, he’s a talented basketball player. But with that being said, take away the talent, I first had to believe he could succeed here. And after doing my homework, I felt he was gonna be just fine here.”
To keep Johnson on the right track, Pastner has him on a stringent daily schedule. He is the only Memphis player on the team with a curfew.
Johnson understands he was making bad decisions. “I was just flat-out making the wrong choices for myself. Not knowing who I was,” Johnson said in the Commercial Appeal.
“When we get on that court, I should be able to clean it all up. If I’m putting that ball in the basket, doing everything on and off the court and we’re winning games, they won’t say nothing about that no more.”
Johnson, regarded by some recruiting analysts as the nation’s top junior-college prospect, was averaging around 19 points, six rebounds and four assists as a sophomore at Garden City before his dismissal.