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Keldon Johnson adds Olympian to early career achievements / July 21, 2021

San Antonio Spur Keldon Johnson is in Japan for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics after the second-year pro was named to Team USA as a roster replacement last week.

In Team USA’s final exhibition game Sunday, Johnson scored 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting. The 21-year-old Brodnax native helped Team USA to an 83-76 victory against Spain, one of the U.S.’s main rivals for Olympic gold.

The former Park View Dragon — Johnson finished out his junior and senior seasons at Oak Hill Academy — went 5-5 in the third quarter for 10 points in the win over Spain.

Johnson joined the elite 12-man Olympic roster after impressing the Team USA braintrust with his play on the USA Select Team, a level below the Olympic squad. Johnson’s opportunity opened up when he was selected to replace the Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal, who is in COVID-19 protocols.

JaVale McGee replaces Kevin Love, who is out due to a leg injury. Team USA will start Olympics competition short-handed since three players named to the roster — Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, and Devin Booker — are tied up this week with the NBA Finals.

Zach Lavine of the Chicago Bulls, also is out for now under health protocols.

Upon being named to the Olympic team, Johnson said he was at a “loss for words.” In an interview with Joe Vardon of The Athletic, Johnson described how his parents reacted — “my mom cried, my dad was choking up a little bit, everybody was like, because you know you pray for moments like this … it was a special moment.”

Johnson’s parents are Chris and Rochelle Johnson. His brother Kaleb played for the G-League Austin Spurs this year.

The COVID protocol situation that Beal finds himself in isn’t all together new to Johnson as he found his own playing time with San Antonio affected back in February during regular season NBA play. Johnson and Spurs teammates Rudy Gay, Devin Vassell, Quinndary Weatherspoon and Derrick White were out for a few games due to the NBA’s COVID health and safety protocols.

In his second year with the Spurs, Johnson started 67 and averaged 12.8 points and six rebounds a game.

In his rookie season he played in 17 games for the Spurs, averaging 9.1 points. He also split time with the G-League Austin Spurs where he was a strong performer — his G-League performances solidifying his place on San Antonio’s roster.

Team USA’s first game will be against France on July 25. Team USA will play in Group A against France, Iran and Czech Republic in order to qualify for the single-elimination Final Phase that begins on Aug. 3. The Olympics run from July 23-Aug. 8.

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