There’s little, if any talk, coming from the best player on the floor. Each day he’s trying to improve and there’s few games where he doesn’t get crowds, home or away, excited about shaking an opposing defender and slamming the ball through the rim.
He’s that good.
“He’s a quiet person, but he has kind of a quiet confidence to him,” said Cheyenne Mountain boys basketball coach Elgin Fitzgerald.
The person he’s referring to is senior Javonte Johnson, the team’s star basketball player. At 6-foot-5, it’s easy to pick him out in a crowd of high school students. He is dwarfed only by Fitzgerald, who stands 6-foot-9 and had a college basketball career of his own at Dartmouth under current Sierra coach Terry Dunn.
His hometown being Colorado Springs, Johnson hasn’t had to move around much up to this point. However, that will change next year when Johnson heads to the University of New Mexico, who he inked a letter of intent to play for collegiately.
“I grew up here my whole life,” said Johnson. “It was nice; there wasn’t a whole lot of moving. I was just able to focus on basketball whenever I needed to. (New Mexico) is still pretty close but it won’t be like ‘home-home.’”
Both on and off the court, Johnson is typically more reserved than you would expect the star of the team to be, but Fitzgerald doesn’t see that as a bad thing.
“He’s just a naturally quiet person — nothing wrong with that — but once he steps on the court, he lets his game do the talking and demonstrates that he’s more vocal and loud through his actions on the court which I think is always fun to see.”
Basketball is a big part of Johnson’s life, but he’s able to find time for other activities as well. When he’s not on the court, he likes to spend time with friends, watch movies (his favorite is Like Mike), or play video games. Call of Duty is one of his favorites.
“I just like to do what every other kid likes to do,” he said. “I like to draw too. Just abstract or whatever comes to mind. I draw a little bit and in eight and ninth grade I used to make music, beats and stuff.”
When he was younger, Johnson played other sports besides basketball such as soccer, t-ball and flag football. But it always came back to basketball. Johnson, who lives with his dad and younger sister, grew up watching his dad play basketball and that helped fuel his love for the game as well.
“I’ve been working out with him ever since I started,” said Johnson. “I don’t know what I’d be doing if it wasn’t basketball really. It’s been like all my life really so that’s kind of hard to assume what I’d be doing if I didn’t have basketball.”
Fitzgerald, who has coached Johnson for all four years of his high school career, has been impressed with how much Johnson has developed since first stepping onto the court at Cheyenne Mountain.
“I’d say he’s very coachable,” Fitzgerald said. “He’ll do whatever you ask and he’s very good about that. He’s grown a lot in that area and become really good at that. His work ethic is something that sets him apart from everybody else. Those two things really set him apart and character overall, just the kind of person he is, very polite (and) very nice. You can just tell he’s just a mature, young man and he does what he’s supposed to do. He does all the right things and I think that makes it really easy to coach him.
“I’ve had the opportunity to just talk to him whether it’s at school or before and after workouts when schools would come watch him. I’ve really enjoyed the last couple years of the recruiting process where we’ve touched base with coaches, but through that I’ve gotten to know Javonte and our bond has kind of grown stronger through that and so I think that’s been really great for me and him to have that and share that.”
One person who has been on the same path with Johnson longer than Fitzgerald is his childhood friend, Dominique Clifford from Vanguard High School. Clifford recently verbally committed to University of Colorado.
“His dad had a YMCA team back in second grade and he heard about me from someone so he asked us if I would like to play for them and I did, and ever since then we’ve been like brothers,” Johnson said. “He’s just a real humble person. He doesn’t brag about anything; we just have a lot of things in common.”
Fitzgerald gives a lot of credit to Johnson for putting Cheyenne Mountain basketball back on the map. He hopes that Johnson’s legacy will last at the school for a long time.
“He’s been able to do that because he’s of who he is as a person both on and off the court,” Fitzgerald said. I’ll also miss just the fact that he’s such a good person, easy to coach and someone that gets along with his teammates.
“I’ve never had any kind of issue with him in any capacity. It’s always been a positive experience for me and for him and obviously the talent speaks for itself. But just the person that he is and the way he conducts his business is something that you really don’t see that much in high school athletes and so I think that that’s definitely something that I’ll miss when he’s gone.”
The goal for Fitzgerald and for the Cheyenne Mountain community is to enjoy watching Johnson play for the remainder of his senior year. Simple as that.