Richard Pitino addressed Minnesota freshman Jarvis Johnson and his inability to play for the team due to an internal defibrillator implanted in his chest. Johnson wasn’t medically cleared to play, but he will remain on scholarship at the school and will remain involved with the basketball program.
In an interview with Marcus R. Fuller of the Pioneer Press, Pitino addressed how everything went down with Johnson and the team’s doctors.
Q: Were you as surprised as Johnson’s family was about the decision by the team doctors?
A: The biggest thing with Jarvis is everybody wants what’s best for Jarvis and his health. Certainly, we’re disappointed he will not be playing for us. The intentions are very, very good. We all want to see him succeed for a long, long time in the game of life. I think Jarvis’ family knows that. I told Jarvis this the other day, that, “One door is closed but that doesn’t mean that a bunch of doors won’t open for you.
He’s a special kid. He’s a resilient kid. He’s a well-rounded person who will get the most out of his opportunity. He’ll still help out our program a lot. This was something that we trusted in our doctors and we knew that what they wanted more than anything was for Jarvis to be healthy.”
The article goes on to explain that Johnson is being encouraged to be around the basketball program and that his scholarship is still in place at Minnesota. Although Johnson is on scholarship, that scholarship will not count against the men’s basketball program, so they now have an additional spot to use if they want to.
It’s disappointing that Johnson wasn’t medically cleared by the Minnesota medical staff, but it might be for the best if it’s protecting him from a potentially fatal complication. While he was in eighth grade, Johnson’s heart stopped beating for around 10 minutes, but he survived the incident unharmed, getting the internal defibrillator after.