Arkansas point guard commits to Oklahoma State
BY KELLY HINES World Sports Writer
Tuesday, October 02, 2012
10/02/12 at 4:55 AM
RoShunda Johnson will never forget Nov. 18, 2011.
While on her way to school, she learned Oklahoma State coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna were killed in a plane crash the previous night.
Johnson, a 5-foot-7 point guard at Little Rock Park View, was among the Arkansas players Budke and Serna were traveling to evaluate at the time of their deaths.
"When it first happened, I really couldn't believe it," she said Monday night. "I was just feeling down, and it was a reason for me to play even harder."
Basketball became part of Johnson's grieving process. After the crash, she dedicated her performance in a tournament championship game to Budke and Serna and believes that's why her team won.
The connection she felt to the former OSU coaches deepened over the weekend, when Johnson decided to become part of the Cowgirl family, verbally committing before Saturday's football game against Texas.
"When she went on campus, the girls and everybody was just so nice," said Johnson's mother, Kesha Thompson. "It was just a family atmosphere.
"I always told her, you're going to know when it's time to commit. And she said, 'I think I know. I feel like I'm at a family reunion.'"
Said Johnson: "I felt like I would actually love playing with them. ... If they do something, they all do it together."
Ranked No. 49 nationally by ESPN HoopGurlz, Johnson is one of the top guard prospects in the Class of 2013.
Thompson said coach Jim Littell pulled Johnson and junior point guard Tiffany Bias aside Saturday and told them: "You know, when we had Andrea Riley here, we had a great backcourt. Two point guards took us to the NCAA. That's what I want to do with you and Tiffany."
Johnson was interested in OSU before OSU became interested in her, but she developed a close relationship with Serna, who came to see the recruit she called "Champ" a few weeks before the crash.
"She said, 'You know what, Champ? You're going to be something awesome. If we get you at OSU, that would be great. But if we don't, somebody else is going to be really happy to have you,'" Thompson said. "That stayed with her a long, long time."
Johnson said Serna told her to "play hard and the doors would open up." They did - she also considered Texas, Tennessee, Arkansas and Kentucky - but Johnson chose the door to Gallagher-Iba Arena and said the crash didn't affect her decision.
"The crash, of course, did have some type of impact on her, but ... I just told her to pray about it, try not to let that be a deciding factor," Thompson said. "I really think no matter what happened, she was still going to end up at OSU.
"She stayed true to her word, because she had (privately) told Miranda, 'Coach, no matter what, I'm going to come play for you.' She stood by her word."
Original Print Headline: OSU recruit has strong connection
Kelly Hines 918-581-8452
RoShunda Johnson: The point guard said her visit to OSU felt like a family reunion.