Keyontae Johnson’s comeback story just got even better.
The Oklahoma City Thunder selected Johnson with the 50th overall selection in the NBA Draft on Thursday. That means he is a second-round pick who will get a terrific opportunity to make a pro roster next season.
Johnson, a 6-foot-5 and 229-pound wing who averaged 17.4 points and 6.8 rebounds as a senior for the Kansas State Wildcats this past year, is the first draft pick to come out of K-State since Wesley Iwundu in 2017.
But this draft night was more about him than his former college team. His selection was the final chapter in an inspirational comeback story that saw him overcome a high-profile health scare midway through his college career and still make it to the NBA.
Remember, it wasn’t all that long ago that Johnson was an all-conference player at Florida and everyone expected him to be picked in the 2021 NBA Draft. But he was unable to live up to his billing with the Gators after he collapsed during a game against Florida State.
He spent much of the next two years learning to manage a heart condition and his basketball career was in jeopardy. But he returned to the court in glorious fashion for Kansas State this past season as he helped the Wildcats win 26 games and reach the Elite Eight as a senior.
His dream of playing in the NBA was once again within reach. Then it became reality on Thursday night when the Thunder used a second-round pick on him.
Johnson worked out with seven different NBA teams leading up to the draft, and Oklahoma City was one of them. He celebrated the pick with his family at home in Norfolk, Virginia.
He will now try to help the Thunder improve with his unique mixture of size and athleticism, not to mention his ability to knock down outside shots and to defend multiple positions.
K-State coach Jerome Tang is confident Johnson will be a good addition.
“He was extremely thankful for the opportunity he had last year and I expect him to do the same this year,” Tang said. “He is going to be thankful that he’s in this position. Whoever calls his name, he is going to be extremely thankful for that. And I guarantee you that whoever calls his name will be, a year from now, very thankful they picked him because he’s just a terrific human being and an excellent basketball player.”