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Gators’ Keyontae Johnson awaits medical clearance, hopes to play next season

The junior forward collapsed during a December game and didn’t play the rest of last season. His family has not said what caused the collapse.
Florida's Keyontae Johnson supports the Gators from the sideline during a Jan. 19 game in Gainesville, more than a month after collapsing during a game against Florida State.
Florida's Keyontae Johnson supports the Gators from the sideline during a Jan. 19 game in Gainesville, more than a month after collapsing during a game against Florida State. [ MATT STAMEY | AP ]
Published Apr. 21
Updated Apr. 21

GAINESVILLE — Florida’s Keyontae Johnson is “patiently waiting” on medical clearance while hoping to play basketball for the Gators next season.

Johnson, a junior forward, collapsed on the court in December during a game and spent 10 days in hospitals. He didn’t play the rest of the season.

“I am progressing & steadily making progress daily in my health,” Johnson said in a post he shared via social media Wednesday. “I am patiently waiting on medical clearance. ... I plan to keep working to prepare for the upcoming season. My story continues to be written & driven by God.”

The SEC’s preseason player of the year last season slammed face-first to the floor seconds after coming out of a timeout during a Dec. 12 game at Florida State.

His family said in early February that his medical condition was not related to a previous positive coronavirus test.

The family did not say what doctors believe caused Johnson to crumple with no warning.

Johnson spent two nights in a hospital before being airlifted to Gainesville with his mother by his side. His recovery was slow. He was able to follow simple commands. He started breathing on his own. He chatted with friends and teammates via FaceTime.

He made his first public comment Dec. 18, thanking everyone for their prayers and support. He was released from the hospital four days later, 10 days after his collapse and in time to spend Christmas with his family and then be on hand for Florida’s first practice following a two-week hiatus.

Johnson’s potential return would be a huge boost for a team that has gone through a significant overhaul this offseason.

Guards Tre Mann and Scottie Lewis entered the NBA draft with plans of hiring agents. Shooting guard Noah Locke, forward Omar Payne, backup point guard Ques Glover and reserve forward Osayi Osifo entered the transfer portal in hopes of finding more prominent roles elsewhere.

Coach Mike White also lost his top two assistants. Darris Nichols got the head job at Radford, and Jordan Mincy took over at Jacksonville.

White has turned to the transfer portal to fill the holes, signing Charleston Southern guard Phlandrous Fleming Jr., Penn State guard Myreon Jones, Kansas City guard Brandon McKissic and Boston College forward CJ Felder.

The core of Florida’s team already included three transfers: big man Colin Castleton (Michigan), point guard Tyree Appleby (Cleveland State), and forward Anthony Duruji (Louisiana Tech). Castleton put his name in the NBA draft in hopes of getting feedback on ways to improve. He did not hire an agent and is expected to stay in school.

There’s little doubt that White upgraded his roster with the four latest transfers. Getting Johnson back would make the Gators, at the very least, a team to watch in the SEC next season.

— By MARK LONG

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