Florida star whose on-court collapse stunned college basketball is now 'basically another coach' after heart condition diagnosis
- Keyontae Johnson stunned the college basketball world after his on-court collapse in December.
- The Florida Gators star has a heart condition and will miss the rest of the season.
- He's now serving as "basically another coach" for the Gators, and his teammates are lauding him as a "student of the game."
Keyontae Johnson made headlines after collapsing during a December college basketball game.
The Florida star is out of the hospital and on his way to recovery. However, he's prepared to make an impact from the sideline.
—Florida Gators Men’s Basketball (@GatorsMBK) January 2, 2021After an extended stay in the hospital and a multi-day medically induced coma, Johnson was diagnosed with a heart condition and ruled out for the remainder of the season. Now, Johnson is " basically another coach" for the Gators, according to teammate Colin Castleton, and a damn good one at that.
"[Johnson] was coaching us up a lot on the bench and coaching me up as well," Duruji said, per 247 Sports. "Just trying to pick his brain and giving us a lot of different commands, so I was thankful for him."Castleton noted that Johnson assisted the coaching staff with scouting responsibilities. He relayed information about individual opponents to the team's players and helped them keep their emotions in check throughout the game.
"He's in the locker room, talking to us in timeouts," Castleton added. "If I made a mistake in the first half, he was like 'hey man, you got it. Keep it up. Just keep doing what you're doing'. He's our guy, he's our leader and everybody looks up to him and listens to him. So, he's helping us out a lot."Florida's entire team was understandably shaken when Johnson - their leading scorer last season and the 2020-2021 SEC Preseason Player of the Year - fell to the hardwood seemingly unprovoked following a timeout early in the Gators' matchup against the Florida State Seminoles on December 12.After having been diagnosed with acute myocarditis - a disorder causing inflammation of the heart muscle that could have fatal consequences such as heart damage or cardiac arrest if left untreated - Johnson was discharged from the hospital.
On Saturday, he rejoined the Gators in person for the first time since his scary incident the month prior, and Florida head coach Mike White said "it felt great" to have Johnson back with the team.
"I feel a lot better," White said. "I know our staff does and I'm sure our guys do with him being right there. He's a leader. He's charismatic. He loves his teammates and so when he says something during timeouts or in the huddles, it holds a lot of weight. He's got ultimate respect from his teammates and there was no doubt he was a factor today."Though it remains unclear whether Johnson will be permitted to rejoin his teammates on the hardwood down the line, it's safe to say he'll continue helping the team the best way he can in the interim. The Gators currently sit atop the SEC with a 5-1 overall record and a perfect 2-0 start in the conference.
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