PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — She didn’t stop when Division I offers avoided her in high school.
She didn’t quit when her junior college basketball team opted out of the season because of COVID-19.
And now Tianna Johnson is being rewarded.
David Williams/basketball coach at trainer: “I think our girls, especially around here, are under-recruited,” said coach David Williams, who has trained Johnson for three years.
This spring Johnson accepted an offer to play at St. Bonaventure in New York. After stints at two junior colleges, she feels like she earned the shot.
“I definitely feel like I took a different path,” johnson said. “It made me who I am but I love the path I took. I had to work for everything.”
When Johnson was a high school junior, she played in front of a lot of college recruiters on a state championship team Richwoods. She was sure she’d get a Division I offer.
When it didn’t come, she was humbled and motivated.
“I definitely feel like I beat the odds,” Johnson said. “It was along time coming, especially through high school. I thought I was going to go D1 out of there. To go JUCO was a shock to me.”
Johnson played with Courtney Crane (Chicago State), Camryn Taylor (Marquette) and Jaida McCloud (Illinois-Chicago) in high school. They got the offers, she didn’t.
The 5-10 guard went to Seward County Community College in Kansas for a year. Then transferred to New Mexico Community College, which opted out of the season during the pandemic.
“There was no doubt in my mind she could play at the Division I level. It’s always about the fit and finding the right fit,” said Richwoods High School basketball coach Todd Hursey. “Sometimes people have to take a different route to get there.”
She returned home from New Mexico and worked out with Williams three days a week. Eventually, St. Bonaventure called.
When she plays her first game for the Bonnies this fall, it will be over 18 months since her last game. But she says it will mark the end of one journey and the beginning of another.
“They took a chance on me when a lot of other schools didn’t,” Johnson said. “I’m definitely ready to get there, work, listen and soak everything in.”