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Northridge star signs with Northern Colorado


Northridge's Kiana Johnson (21) will play collegiately at Northern Colorado. (Photo by Robert Sutton)


TUSCALOOSA | Kiana Johnson didn’t hesitate when the right opportunity came along.

Johnson, a 5-foot-10 senior guard on the Northridge High School girls basketball team, signed Monday to play for the University of Northern Colorado. Located in Greeley, Northern Colorado is a member of the Big Sky Conference.

By signing in the early period, Johnson honored a commitment she made in August.

"It felt like a relief to just do it and get it over with so I can think about other things and have my future planned for me," she said. "It was a huge milestone to commit first and then signing now just makes it official. It feels great. I put a lot of hard work in. I had a lot of injuries, so it just makes it all worth it — all the tears, the blood, the sweat, everything. I’m really excited. It’s a great opportunity for me. I’m really blessed.

"I think it takes a lot of the pressure off for my senior year, and I can just play and have fun and make memories and stuff. I’m not going to slack off. I definitely want to reach as high as we can with my team and hopefully go as far as we can."

Johnson averaged a team-high 13.8 points in 33 games last season. She averaged 5.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists and recorded 76 steals and 13 blocked shots.

"It’s wonderful because she’s earned this," Northridge coach John Cain said. "It’s great to see our young ladies that work hard get the reward at the end."

Cain said Johnson was primarily a shooting guard last season.

"She’s definitely going to be our primary ball-handler," Cain said. "She’s a team captain, a person that sort of keeps everything together. She stepped in last season with a group of girls that had already been playing together and really found her niche on that team. She was a very consistent performer. I knew what I was going to get out of her every night. That didn’t waver.

"A good bit of our offense will run through her. She’s as good a scorer as there is in the area. We expect to use that strength, but at the same time she has good length for a guard. She’s able to get in there and get a lot of rebounds and just be a team leader and run things while she’s on the floor."

Johnson said she wants to lead by example.

"People tend to not respond to you yelling at them or telling them what to do, so I like to just lead by example and do what I know I can do," she said. "Hopefully, they’ll want to be like me."

Johnson admitted that she’s not an experienced skier, but she knows a bit about life in the West. She has family in Utah, and her sister, Whitney, is a redshirt freshman at the University of New Mexico. Johnson said she hopes the Northern Colorado coaches will schedule a game against her sister’s team.

"It was a great opportunity go to on a full scholarship, and I really loved the coaches," Johnson said. "They’ll get me to my highest potential. I really liked the team. The girls were really nice when I went to visit them. They seemed like they’re all really good friends, on and off the court. They have great facilities. They have a couple of gyms they can practice in and strength-training facilities and dorm rooms and stuff. It’s a great place.

"They have a great nursing program, and I want to be a nurse. The nursing program is really amazing, the same with their education program for teachers. Those are my two top jobs right now."

 

Reach Andrew Carroll at andrew.carroll@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0223.