Last month Minnesota freshman guard Jarvis Johnson received some news that both stunned and saddened him: the school would not clear him medically to suit up for Richard Pitino due to a heart ailment that led to him collapsing during a game as an eighth grader. While there was some controversy regarding the decision to sideline Johnson, he’s begun the process of getting acclimated to college life while also coming to grips with the fact that he won’t be able to play basketball.
In an interview with Marcus R. Fuller of the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, Johnson discussed how he’s dealt with the change to his life while also touching on his hope to one day be able to return to the court.
Q: There are players who played college basketball with your condition, so is that your hope to play one day?
A: Most definitely. Anything is possible. Hearing about guys who have had the experience of having the defibrillator and playing is like a plus for me. To still play is my hope.
As noted in the question there have been players who have transferred from a school that did not clear them to play because of a heart ailment to another, including Emmanuel Negedu (Tennessee to New Mexico) and Allan Chaney (Virginia Tech to High Point). However that’s a big risk for a school to take, given the fact that there’s no way to guarantee that there won’t be issues down the line (both Negedu and Chaney saw their playing careers end prematurely).
The positive in this for Johnson is that Minnesota is honoring his scholarship and keeping him involved with the program. If he can one day return to the court that would be great, but what’s most important (obviously) is his health.