From Toms River North to Rowan: Women’s Basketball’s Kristina Johnson’s Journey to Becoming a Prof

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Rowan's Kristina Johnson going to take a floater. In Johnson's first year playing, she has already become a starter for the team. Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. - Multimedia Editor / Nick Feldman

Rowan women’s basketball player Kristina Johnson, a sophomore, was a highly sought after recruit for the team after having a successful high school career at Toms River North High School.

There, she helped lead the team to the South Jersey Group VI Championship, earned Shore Conference All Star and was named to All-South Jersey’s first team. After her high school success, Johnson decided that joining the Profs would be the right fit. 

“My high school seasons… In my freshman and sophomore years, we went pretty far in States [Championships] so that was exciting. And then, as I became an upperclassman, I took more of a bigger role, so that was more exciting to be more a part of the team, and be more involved in what goes on in games,” Johnson said. “Eventually I came to Rowan more from AAU [Ameature Athletic Union], I got connected through [Head Coach Demetrius Poles], and he took me on and it just felt like home as soon as I stepped on campus.” 

Her freshman year with the team was canceled due to Covid-19, causing some hesitation on whether or not Johnson would adjust smoothly to college ball after not playing since high school. Despite that, she was excited to play again and currently is developing chemistry with her teammates. 

“I was so excited definitely to play with my teammates, since I haven’t since high school, I haven’t played a game,” Johnson said. “So it has been a long time, and a long time coming, but it’s so exciting to finally be on the court with my teammates, and we’re building our chemistry so it’s exciting.” 

Since the cancellation of the winter season last year, Rowan has had a slew of players play college basketball for the very first time this season. The Profs have a total of nine new players on their roster with a combination of freshman, sophomores and one transfer. 

Coach Poles knows he has veterans who have college basketball experience but he said the most qualified players will get the minutes. 

“You do have new players coming in and, if they’re good, I have no problem playing the better player,” Coach Poles said. “My job is to win and keep a successful program.” 

According to Coach Poles, Johnson is one of the most talented players on the roster, as she has made her way into the starting five for the Profs and has started all seven games they have played.

“Kristina Johnson is an amazing player. If you take my brain and think of a basketball player, she’s it,” Poles said. “She has all the tools, she has the size, she has the skill. She’s an amazing player, she can dribble, she can pass, she can shoot, her basketball IQ is one of the highest on the team. She’s like a silent killer.” 

So far this season, Johnson is averaging 24.7 minutes a game and is shooting 100% from the free throw line. She averages 6.7 points a game and leads the team with 5.1 boards a game. 

Out of all the strengths in Johsnon’s arsenal, Coach Poles points out her basketball IQ as her biggest contributing factor.

“The strongest point in her game is her IQ, she understands, I can talk to her and she understands exactly what I mean, without any second guessing, without any hesitation,” Poles said. “Her basketball IQ is the best thing about her.”

The 5’10 guard and forward has also asserted herself on defense and in the post, where she has come up with six steals and five blocks while dishing out six assists.

Johnson has made the rocky transition of playing college basketball after nearly two years of absence and has since found a home here at Rowan where she has kicked started the season off strongly. 

The Profs are 3-4 this season, and have a busy road schedule ahead where they will play away against Rutgers-Camden on Dec. 8 and William Paterson on Dec. 11 this week. 

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