August 7, 2013
By: Kelly McHugh
Growing up, freshman point guard Nigel Johnson didn't think anything of it.
His friends thought it was cool, but to him, having a former NFL player dad was just, well, normal.
"When I was younger, I didn't think it was really that big of a deal," Nigel said about his dad, Sidney Johnson, who played in the NFL from 1987-94, "but when people found out about it they would think it was cool. I didn't think it was something really special because I was around it my whole life."
However, as Nigel got older, things began to change. As his love for playing sports, especially basketball, quickly grew into a passion, having a father with a successful athletic background influenced him both on and off the court. With firsthand experience, Sidney was able to teach Nigel exactly what it takes to compete at higher levels.
A two-sport collegiate athlete, Sidney played both football and basketball for the University of California before entering the NFL in 1987. After spending one season with the Kansas City Chiefs, Sidney finished his NFL career with the Washington Redskins.
"The biggest influence on my basketball career has been my dad because he played college basketball and football and then he played pro football, so he knows exactly what it takes to get there," Johnson said. "He doesn't make me work hard, but he tells me if I want to get the right results I have to work hard. So that's what I've done my whole life."
In eighth grade, Johnson gave up playing football so he could focus more on basketball. He said his dad supported him in his decision and, since then, has helped him into becoming the basketball player he is today.
"I used to play both," Johnson explained, "but I stopped because, going into high school, you could play both, but if you wanted to be really good at one you had to pick just one and dedicate all your time to it."
During his senior season for Riverside Baptist School in Upper Marlboro, Md., Johnson averaged 17.9 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. He helped lead the Crusaders to the Capital Beltway League title and was named the CBL Tournament most valuable player after scoring a team-high 33 points going in a 95-89 win over Princeton Day.
His success as a high school player continued his senior year, and he was named First Team All-Met by the Washington Post and area Player of the Year and first team all-area by both the Prince George Gazette and Maryland Community News.
Johnson's decision to play basketball at K-State came after talking with the Wildcats' coaching staff. He said he found many similarities between himself and assistant coach Chester Frazier, which helped ease the transition from playing high school basketball to college.
"Coach Frazier was who I talked to first, and he's actually from around the same area as me, so there's that connection," Johnson said. "He's also a point guard, so he played at the same level as me and then played professional. I feel like playing for him and working out with him he can make me better and help get me to the next level."
As for his goals for his career at K-State, Johnson kept it simple: win.
"I'm going to work hard to do whatever we can to help us win," he said, "and hopefully we do."
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