SE: K-State Sports Extra Q&A with D.J. Johnson


Every month during the athletic year, K-State Sports Extra features a new student-athlete in its monthly Q&A special. This month, we catch up with Wildcat men’s basketball junior D.J. Johnson before tonight’s matchup against the No. 24/25 Texas Longhorns (17-10, 8-6 Big 12) at 6 p.m. in Bramlage Coliseum.
 
Back in action after spending last season out with injury, D.J. Johnson has been making an impact on the court for the Wildcats this season. Johnson enters tonight’s game against Texas coming off of a strong performance against No. 2 Kansas on Saturday afternoon where he scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds in the 72-63 loss. 
     
It’s taken hard work for Johnson to get back into his game after spending a year on the sidelines, but he’s worked his way back into the Wildcats’ starting lineup and, in his previous five games, has averaged 11.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game as a starter. 
 
Overall in his Wildcat career Johnson, a St. Louis, Missouri, native, has played in a total of 89 games averaging 4.4 points and 3.6 rebounds per game with 40 steals (20 this season) and 49 blocks (20 this season).
 
Here’s a look at K-State Sports Extra’s recent conversation with Johnson:
 
Sports Extra: How good does it feel to be back on the court and back in the swing of things after being out for so long?
 
D.J. Johnson: It feels great to be back. I still feel like I have a little ways to go to get my legs under me, but it’s just interesting to see myself constantly improving. I’m excited about it.
 
SE: How hard was it to come off injury and get back into the game?
 
DJ: It was challenging. Being patient more than anything was my biggest struggle, knowing the game was second nature and I was always on the court around the guys being a good teammate, I was always in there, but the hardest part was just being patient and taking my time getting back into it and not trying to rush things. 
 
SE: Now that you’re back, it seems like when you’re on the court you’re just loving every second of it, do you gave a different appreciation for the game after spending a year off the court?
 
DJ: It’s definitely more fun, and I definitely don’t take it for granted. It’s been a blessing to be back out there.
 
SE: What do you think is this team’s identity?
 
DJ: Ambitious. We’re ambitious. We work hard, we practice hard and we feel we can beat anybody in the nation. We work hard and want to be one of the best teams out there.
 
SE: So, how long have you been growing out the dreads?
 
DJ: I’ve been growing them out since my sophomore year of high school, so that puts us at about six or seven years now.
 
SE: Which do you prefer during the game, the ponytail or the bun?
 
DJ: (Laughing) It depends, some days I just wake up and have my hair in the bun because that’s how I sleep with it, and I just don’t touch it for the entire day. I have no real preference, it’s just whether or not I’m lazy that day.
 
SE: What is your dream vacation?
 
DJ: Dream vacation? That’s a tough one. I’d have to say my dream vacation would be traveling to Africa, going to Egypt, see Alexandria, maybe Nigeria, Sierra Leone, just touring all around Africa, maybe the Canary Islands off the coast, just touring around. 
 
SE: And if you could take one teammate or manager with you who would it be and why?
 
DJ: If I could take one teammate or manager, if I could take a manager it would be Alex Piggott. I would take him because he’s a good time. He’s always in a good mood, never down, always in a positive mood. I’m close with Alex. But a teammate, I would bring Barry Brown.
 
SE: Who is the funniest guy on the team?
 
DJ: The funniest guy on the team would have to be Isaiah Maurice. He’s just funny, he’s funny when he’s not even trying to be funny.
 
SE: Best singer?
 
DJ: Oh! It would have been Martavious Irving when he was on the team, he was the best singer ever. But now, I would have to say I’m the best singer on the team, and I can’t even sing. I can sing, I just can’t sing well. We’re more instrumental, we all play instruments. 
 
SE: What instrument do you play?
 
DJ: I play piano, a little guitar. Barry plays the trumpet and a little trombone. Justin plays the harmonica from time to time, he’s pretty good. 
 
SE: Have you guys ever thought about starting a band?
 
DJ: No, (laughing) we haven’t thought about it yet.
 
SE: Finally, what’s the best part about being a student-athlete at K-State?
 
DJ: That’s hard. You just can’t put your finger on one thing. There are so many things, so many great people around. You get treated special. Everyone is out there showing you love. I like everything about being a student-athlete. I like going to class and being recognized from time to time after a big win. The support system we have here, the opportunity to give back to the community whether it’s through Cats for Cans or Special Olympics, just everything. The experience, everything. 
 
Tonight’s men’s basketball game will be aired nationally on ESPNU. For more information on tonight’s matchup, please click here.