Next year will be a big year for Huron’s Eden Johnson.
The junior will not only be trying to navigate her final season at Huron High School but also turning her attention to the next chapter in her life. There will be decisions to make, choices to sort through and roads to travel – some two-way trips and one a one-way destination to her home for the next four years.
But first there is work to be done – in the classroom, on the basketball court and just overall preparation as she dribbles her way through her final year as a River Rat basketball player and Huron student.
The thing is, hard work has always been in her DNA. It’s how she’s wired so the Eden Johnson you see now will be very different the next time she steps on a basketball court wearing Huron on her jersey.
“Eden is a strong student who will have plenty of options next year,” said Huron Coach Waleed Samaha, who, as a former director of basketball operations at Michigan, knows recruiting from both ends of the court. “Eden is drawing interest from many high level schools. She is a highly skilled player and is a competitive athlete who loves to defend and rebound. She can score in the post, off the dribble and has become a very good shooter from deep.”
Johnson was a key player on Huron’s 18-2 team this past season which won the SEC Red Division with an undefeated record. She averaged 15 points and 7 rebounds per game for the River Rats.
“Eden is a great teammate,” Samaha says. “She puts the team first. She has strong leadership skills and her teammates respect her work ethic.”
Before we tip off the present and pass our way to the future, let’s back pedal to where it all began for Johnson.
“I started playing basketball when I was 4 years old but not officially until I was in second grade,” she says. “My dad played in college so he was always pushing me to play and teaching me the game.
“I loved all sports and played soccer and volleyball. But my whole family is tall and we were always playing basketball when I was growing up.”
Johnson started playing travel basketball with the Lady Huskies when she was in sixth grade. After her sophomore year she switched travel teams and now plays for the Dearborn Hype, which features players from all over Southeastern Michigan.
AAU basketball has been huge in Johnson’s development as a player over the years.
“It’s really important as far as both improving your skills and also providing exposure to college coaches,” she said. “It’s also a great way to meet people. Some of my closest friends I’ve met playing travel basketball.”
The Hype play throughout the summer which gives players a chance to work on their skills against elite competition.
“It’s a lot quicker paced than high school basketball,” she said. “But it’s not as organized. There is a lot more one-on-one going on instead of playing as a team.”
That’s because players are trying to show their skills to college coaches and scouts. Wins and losses don’t matter as much as they do in high school.
And speaking of high school, Johnson is very proud of the season the River Rats put together in 2017-18. “I know it didn’t end how we wanted it to but I enjoyed every minute playing with these girls,” she said. “They have become part of my family. Every practice was a gift.”
Johnson, who transferred from Skyline HS, says the River Rats raced into the win column 18 times this season running on team chemistry as their fuel.
“We might not have the best talent but we worked together perfectly out on the court,” she said.
And, no, it certainly didn’t end how they wanted it to. Johnson landed on her ankle and “sprained it pretty badly” toward the end of the regular season against Saline. The bad ankle forced her to miss the opening game of Districts against Dexter.
“It was painful,” she says, not referring to her ankle but having to watch her teammates struggle and lose to the Dreadnaughts in the first round of Districts at Pioneer HS. “I was proud that they played together and never gave up. They worked hard all game.”
Johnson is going to work hard all off-season.
“Yeah, I will spend the summer working on my game and my mom is a crazy runner so she will have me running all the time,” says Johnson, the daughter of Mack and Merry Johnson.
And while she knows some big decisions are going to have to be made, there is some unfinished business to tend to first.
“We are going to work,” she said when asked about how the team is going to respond to the tough loss to Dexter. “That is not going to happen again next year.”
She’s going to work. That’s a place where Eden Johnson feels right at home and it’s a good place to be as she begins to figure out where her next home is going to be.