Local college notebook: Ex-Panther Johnson earns Good Works Team honor

Bard basketball-Harry Johnson by .

A junior at Bard College, Harry Johnson was recently selected to the Allstate National Association of Basketball Coaches Good Works Team. (Submitted photo)

Like any college basketball player, Harry Johnson dreamed of reaching the Final Four.

So the Polytech High grad is pretty excited to know that he’ll be in Houston for the national championship weekend this April.

But, unlike most college basketball players, Johnson earned his Final Four trip by what he’s done off the court, not on it.

A junior at Bard College, Johnson was recently selected to the Allstate National Association of Basketball Coaches Good Works Team.

The team honors a total of 10 players — five from Division I and five from Division II, III and NAIA schools — for their efforts in giving back to their communities. There’s a men’s and a women’s team with a pool of 154 players nominated nationwide.

The Good Works team will be honored during the men’s Final Four, March 31-April 4 in Houston,

“I was shocked,” Johnson said in a story on Bard’s website. “Just being nominated for a national award was a humbling experience. To actually be one of five people chosen (from small colleges) is unreal.”

“Most people head off to college looking only to better themselves,” Bard coach Adam Turner was quoted. “Harry came to Bard searching for a way he could impact the world. He is an incredible leader and someone who raised the level of everything we do on the court, but at the end of his four years, the thing he will leave behind is hundreds of minority students from the local area who will feel empowered and motivated to seek greatness in their lives because they crossed paths with Harry.”

While at Bard, which is located along the Hudson river in New York, Johnson has mentored underprivileged youths in a nearby community.

The Smyrna native also helped create Brothers at Bard, an organization created to give young black men on campus a safe environment to discuss life at Bard, or whatever else they wanted to discuss. The group also travels off-campus to meet with men in the community.

While in Houston, the Good Hands team will take part in a community project. Johnson said he’s excited about that part of the experience.

“What this trip is all about is serving,” Johnson was quoted. “My high school lacrosse coach (Polytech’s Bob Gilmore) used to tell everyone, ‘Don’t thank me, just pass it on.’ I’ve lived by this motto. Although I’m thankful I’m receiving this honor, it’s great to have a chance to go down there and pass it on to the people of Houston.”

Frustrating finish

It’s difficult to imagine a more frustrating end to a game than this one.

With only 1.6 seconds remaining and the contest tied, Delaware looked like it was going to a third overtime in its women’s basketball matchup with Elon last Sunday.

Inbounding the ball under her own basket, though, Elon’s Shay Burnett threw the ball off a Blue Hen defender, who had her back turned towards the Phoenix sophomore.

Burnett then stepped inbounds, grabbed the ball back and hit the winning shot to give Elon a stunning 66-64 win over Delaware.

The play was named the Top Play on ESPN’s SportsCenter on Tuesday.

And this came after the Hens gave up tying three-pointers as the end of both regulation and the first OT.

“We did some really silly things today,” said Delaware coach Tina Martin.”You have to give Elon credit as both teams fought extremely hard, but some of our mental mistakes at the end are ones that we practice every single day.”

Long-time coming

To put Delaware’s 15-game men’s basketball losing streak in perspective, consider this: There were still 12 shopping days left until Christmas the last time the Hens won.

So yes, there was a big sigh of relief in Newark when Delaware beat Drexel, 69-60, on Thursday night for its first victory since Dec. 12.

“It was very important for us to finally get a win,” said coach Monte’ Ross. “We ask these guys not be human. What that means is that human nature would suggest that we have a woe-is-me type of attitude and say, ‘Here we go again.’

“But we’ve asked them, ‘Don’t do that. Get knocked down but get back up. And as many times as we get knocked down, keep getting back up.’ But with that being said, it’s important for them to experience good things from the hard work that they’ve put in.”

Notes

Delaware State’s 96-95 loss to Florida A&M in men’s basketball on Monday night came when the Rattlers’ Malcolm Bernard drove the length of the court and hit a runner at the buzzer of the second overtime. … The Hornets’ had taken a 95-94 lead on Aric Dickerson’s three-pointer with four seconds left. DSU tied the contest at 72-72 on a basket by Mrdjan Gasevic at the buzzer in regulation. … The Wesley College men’s basketball team recently held a coaching clinic for coaches and athletes working with Special Olympics. “I believe the community service that we do as a team affects us more as players,” said senior Wayne Lennon. “It shows how much love this team has for this community and the smiles on the kids faces brings out the best in us.” … Delaware football coach Dave Brock, three of his assistants and 22 players took part in the Lewes Polar Bear Plunge last Sunday.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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