Belmont's Kerron Johnson named to watch list for national award

Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 8:04pm

Kerron Johnson believes he has the easy part.

While that not might be entirely true, when he provides assistance he has an uncanny knack of making it look effortless.

Belmont’s point guard displays his passing skills in a variety of ways — a long-distance bounce pass down the court, a no-look dish or by splitting the defense with a quick toss inside.

His ability to distribute — with ease, in most instances — along with the fact that he is one of the Bruins’ top scoring threats hasn’t gone unnoticed. On Thursday, Johnson was named to the Bob Cousy Award watch list. He was one of 38 players nominated for the award, which is given annually to the top point guard in the country.

The nomination comes one day after Johnson scored 13 points and dished out six assists in a 76-49 win over South Dakota State, which is led by Nate Wolters, also a nominee for the award.

“I think we have all gotten on the same page,” Johnson said after Wednesday’s win. “Early on I would make passes and they probably wouldn’t see what I saw. But now, me and Blake [Jenkins] and Trevor [Noack] and Ian [Clark] we’ve all played together so long we just have a good feel for each other. I always know where they are going to be and they are always ready to expect it and catch it.

“When they are able to do that it makes my job a lot easier.”

Against South Dakota State, Johnson got off to a slow start and was almost knocked out of the game. Midway through the first half, he drove the lane for a layup but was blocked. He fell down hard to the floor and stayed there for several moments. He limped off, feeling pain in his back and hip. But thanks to help from the athletic training staff, he shook off muscle spasms and hopped back into the game two minutes later.

He went right back into the lane, split the defense and finished with his left hand for a layup. Later in the second half, he made just his seventh 3-pointer of the season but Belmont’s first of the game to spark an 18-0 run that broke a 37-37 tie.

It was a typical night for Johnson, who ranks third in the Ohio Valley Conference in assists per game (4.8). He also averages 13.6 points for second-most on the team.

A 6-foot-1 senior from Huntsville, Ala., he has been a staple in the backcourt for the Bruins the last four years. A three-year starter, he was named the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament MVP last year and was named to the All-OVC preseason team this year.

Last month, he eclipsed 1,000 points for his career, becoming the 12th Belmont player to do so in the school’s NCAA era.

“Kerron is great,” said Noack, who scored a career-high 24 points on Wednesday. “Ian is too. They are some of the best players I’ve ever played with.”