Denzel Johnson came to Santa Clara with a lot of promise.
In his freshman season, Johnson played 27 of 30 games. In 17.7 minutes per game, he averaged 6.2 points on 39.1% shooting. Despite this, Santa Clara finished the 2011-12 season dead last in the West Coast Conference with an overall record of 8-22.
Things turned around the next season. Santa Clara improved to 26-12 and became CBI Champions. However, Johnson played in a much more limited role, as he averaged only 7.4 minutes per game. Because he played significantly less, Johnson’s stats went down to career lows. He only averaged 1.9 points per game on 31.9% shooting.
Most players in his situation would have transferred to another program where they could get more playing time. Johnson decided to stay though. It turned out to be the best decision he could have made.
His junior year saw an increase in stats that were lower than his career highs and higher than his career lows. Johnson averaged 4.2 points and 1.5 rebounds in 13 minutes of action. Santa Clara dipped to a 14-19 record and finished in an eighth place tie in the WCC, but Johnson’s confidence grew.
In his senior season, Johnson played a total of 1,017 minutes. In his three previous seasons in a Broncos uniform, he recorded a combined 1,038 minutes. That extra playing time gave helped Johnson reach new career highs in almost every stat category, including points, rebounds, assists, and three-point field goal percentage.
Johnson left a lasting legacy at Santa Clara. Even when things were not going well for him on the court, he pushed through it. That persistence led to his senior year success, which should be a model for future players to come.