Florida basketball: Keyontae Johnson aiming for medical clearance, return to Gators

By Adam Silverstein
April 21, 2021
Florida basketball: Keyontae Johnson aiming for medical clearance, return to Gators
Basketball

Image Credit: Alex de la Osa / UAA

With a tumultuous offseason encompassing Florida Gators basketball, the program has been waiting with bated breath for an update from its best player, junior forward Keyontae Johnson. The 2020 Preseason SEC Player of the Year, whose season ended in December after he collapsed on the court minutes into a road game at Florida State, provided a hopeful update on Wednesday.

Johnson has decided not to declare for the 2021 NBA Draft and is instead focused on returning to the court for Florida next season if he can receive medical clearance from his doctors and team trainers.

“I am progressing & steadily making progress daily in my health. I am patiently waiting on medical clearance,” he wrote in a Twitter message. “While speaking with my Family, Doctors, Coaches, and Athletic Trainer I’ve decided not to enter my name into the 2021 NBA Draft.

“I plan to keep working to prepare for the upcoming season. My story continues to be written & driven by God! Go Gators!”

This is the first substantial update provided by Johnson ahead of the 2021-22 season. He was ruled out for last season in early 2021 but remained with the team in a bench advisory role over the remainder of the campaign.

Learning that Johnson hopes to play for the Gators next season is some exceptionally positive news during what has been a hectic offseason for the program.

Florida has added four impact transfers — Boston College sophomore F CJ Felder, Charleston Southern senior guard Philandrous Fleming Jr., Penn State junior G Myreon Jones and UMKC senior G Brandon McKissic — after seeing three players declare the 2021 NBA Draft and four enter the transfer portal. One of the three in the draft, junior F Colin Castleton, did not hire an agent and is expected to return to the Gators for his final season.

Head coach Mike White has also lost two of his three assistants with Jordan Mincy hired as head coach of Jacksonville and Darris Nichols announced Wednesday as the new head coach of Radford.

Whether Johnson will ultimately receive his medical clearance is unknown, but without a major catalyst for his collapse identified (at least publicly), hope has long been that he will pass all necessary tests in order to return to the court in a playing capacity.

“Thank you for the prayers and concern that you all have sown to me during these trying few months,” he wrote Wednesday. “It is extremely touching and very much appreciated to have the support of Gator Nation and the world standing by my side.”

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