Manchester Giants have signed 28-year-old American sharpshooter Donovan Johnson, a 6’6” forward from Shelbyville, Kentucky, who last played for Ameghino de Villa Maria in Argentina.
The experienced professional has played across South America for five seasons, including a title-winning stint in Paraguay in 2016-17 with Olimpia de Asuncion as Johnson scored 20 points to lead all-scorers in the Play-off Championship game.
He also enjoyed success in Chile the following season, where he led AB Ancud to a 20-12 record, averaging 16 points and eight rebounds per game, while shooting 43% from the three-point line. From there he joined Ameghino for a second stay in Argentina, averaging 12 points and five rebounds, shooting 48% three-pointers, 57% inside and 85% at the free-throw line.
Over his career, Johnson is a 41% three-point shooter on more than 300 attempts and a 79% free-throw shooter on more than 500 attempts, and that is alongside his long-standing reputation for stifling defence.
In 2019, he played for Team KBC in the $2m The Basketball Tournament, on the same team as two-time BBL MVP candidate Victor Moses. His predominant task on that team was defensive duties on the opposition’s best players, including: 7’1” Isaiah Austin, a previous projection as an NBA First Round Draft Pick who has played at a high level in China; 6’11” Willie Reed who has 152 NBA Regular Season games to his name; and Quincy Miller, who has played 69 NBA games, and averaged as much as 25 points per game in the NBA G-League and 14 points in the Euroleague.
Prior to his professional career, Johnson played NCAA Division 2 basketball for the eight-time National Champions, Kentucky Wesleyan Panthers. He averaged 10 points and seven rebounds per game in his senior season with the Panthers, leading the team in the latter category as it won 71% of its games and went to the Conference Tournament Final in 2013-14. Johnson came up big in those tournament games, leading the team with 19 points in the quarter-final, before adding 14 on 7-8 shooting with eight rebounds in the semi-final.He had previously been a high school standout in Kentucky, and also attended Wabash Valley College where he was a two-year starter as the team won 78% of its games and reached the NJCAA National Championship last eight, with Johnson averaging nine points and six rebounds per game.
Head Coach Danny Byrne said: “Donovan brings a really unique mix of attributes to the team. He is an elite defender, with length, great foot speed, and intensity; and he tends to guard the opposition’s best player almost without exception and regardless of size.
“He is a great shooter and good decision-maker, efficient offensively, and doesn’t need to see much of the ball to get points on the board.
“On top of that, he brings a great deal of experience from a number of rugged South American leagues. With his experience and character I expect him to be a glue-guy for this group. He’s really well poised to make an impact at both ends of the floor in the BBL this season.”