A New Year's gift: Texas freshman's heart OK; he'll start against TCU Print
Written by Admin   
Monday, 31 December 2007 11:57
NCAAB Headline News


 AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -Gary Johnson worried his heart might keep him off the basketball court forever. Still, something told him he would one day be pulling down rebounds again.
For six months and 13 games, the Texas Longhorns' top recruit has been on the bench with an unspecified cardiac condition while doctors considered whether he should play.
Word finally came last weekend he's good to go. Johnson will suit up and start for the first time Wednesday when No. 14 Texas (11-2) plays TCU (8-4).
``I feel it's a gift being able to play again,'' Johnson said Monday as he talked with reporters for the first time. ``Right now I'm taking it as that, trying to take every minute as a gift on the court.''
Johnson's health has been a seasonlong subplot for the Longhorns, who started 11-0 before losing their last two games, to Michigan State and Wisconsin. Texas is counting on his muscle for rebounds and points near the basket.
The 6-foot-7, 235-pound forward did not know of any heart problems in high school. They were detected last summer at Texas' standard physical for new players.
Even though he's now cleared to play, the school and Johnson won't say exactly what they found. It was initially considered serious enough that Johnson worried it might force him off the court forever.
``I was told that once - there was a possibility I might never play again,'' he said. ``That was hard to take.''
Johnson said his family told him basketball wasn't worth risking his life.
``Even my family told me I don't really need that if it's a death situation,'' he said. ``But I've always told them this is what I do, and I don't feel like I was brought this far just to turn back around. I've always kept faith.''
Johnson was put under the watchful eye of Dr. James Willerson, president-elect of the Texas Heart Institute and president of the UT Health Science Center in Houston. It was Willerson who gave him hope he might play again.
``I went through a lot of testing and things like that. For a while I wasn't able to practice or anything. I had to sit back awhile and let everything unfold,'' Johnson said.
He was cleared to practice in early September and wore a monitor every day that tracked his heart rate and how it quickly it recovered from stress. Athletic director DeLoss Dodds and university president William Powers Jr. were kept apprised of his progress.
It took a long time for doctors to gather the information they needed. Johnson said he cried several times out of frustration and the fear of not knowing what doctors would decide. He was allowed to participate in a preseason exhibition but not the regular season.
Coach Rick Barnes said he put Johnson through the regular paces in practice. Barnes is a demanding coach who stresses the Longhorns must be in top condition if they expect to play.
``He's done everything we've asked him to. He's practiced hard,'' Barnes said. ``He's had the best medical care in the world.''
Johnson was relieved when finally told he could play.
``I kind of smiled,'' he said.
Johnson will wear the heart monitor in practice and games. The team began using the monitors as standard practice about two years ago and several players will wear them on a given day, Barnes said.
Johnson said he's ready to take the pounding and intensity of a real game.
``I've made it through all the practice,'' he said. ``If you make it through one of coaches' practices, you can make it through anything.''
The Longhorns are counting on their muscular forward. In their two losses, the Longhorns were beaten up under the basket, especially in the final minutes. Johnson is ready to bang the boards.
``I feel like I have everything to live for and shouldn't be scared of anything,'' he said. ``I feel like I was faced with death at one point, nothing gets worse than that.''
 

NCAABB Team Pages

Top NCAABB Public Bets

View All: NFL |  NBA |  NCAAF |  NCAAB |  MLB |  NHL

Recent NCAABB Discussions

NCAABB Futures

NCAA BASKETBALL TEAM MENS TOURNAMENT ODDS CURRENT
KENTUCKY 4/1
ARIZONA 8/1
DUKE 10/1
WISCONSIN 12/1
KANSAS 14/1
FLORIDA 14/1
NORTH CAROLINA 16/1
VILLANOVA 25/1
LOUISVILLE 28/1
WICHITA STATE 28/1
View All

Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Contact Us | Advertising | 888-99-SPREAD

THIS IS NOT A GAMBLING SITE – If you think you have a gambling problem click here.

Disclaimer: This site is for informational and entertainment purposes only. Individual users are responsible for the laws regarding accessing gambling information from their jurisdictions. Many countries around the world prohibit gambling, please check the laws in your location. Any use of this information that may violate any federal, state, local or international law is strictly prohibited.

Copyright: The information contained on TheSpread.com website is protected by international copyright and may not be reproduced, or redistributed in any way without expressed written consent.

About: TheSpread.com is the largest sports betting news site in the United States. We provide point spread news, odds, statistics and information to over 199 countries around the world each year. Our coverage includes all North American College and Professional Sports as well as entertainment, political and proposition wagering news.

©1999-2013 TheSpread.com