By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
HOOVER, Ala. – Diamber Johnson’s love for basketball runs deep.
She can’t recall when she first started playing. Her childhood was lived on a basketball court and dictated by the street lamps. She played against the guys, because that’s where she could always find a game.
“I would leave in the morning, in the summer before school,” Johnson said. “I had to be back before the street lights (came on), it was curfew. I’d skip lunch – I’d eat breakfast – but I would stay out there all day long.”
Johnson, Mississippi State’s senior point guard, has parlayed that love and dedication into a stellar career. As a senior at Pontotoc High School, she earned Daily Journal Player of the Year honors, and now she leads a Lady Bulldog team trying to bounce back from a 13-17 season (4-12 SEC).
The 5-foot-7 Johnson is the top returning scorer (12.8 points per game) and averaged 4.2 assists last season.
Playing against guys – first in Michigan, then in Pontotoc after she moved there in ninth grade – added a sharp edge to Johnson’s game.
“Guys play rougher, and their anticipation and everything about basketball or sports is greater than girls, so I guess it taught me how to think the game,” Johnson said. “That’s one thing I do now, I know how to read and react because I’ve been around that for so long.”
Johnson said she didn’t give college ball much thought until her senior year, when coaches really began paying attention. Now, according to MSU coach Sharon Fanning-Otis, it’s time for Johnson to be the one.
“Even though she may not have wanted this all along, it’s on her shoulders. This is her team.”
MSU opens its season on Nov. 11 with Jacksonville State.