Early on, it looked like Keldon Johnson might be on his way to another bad game. After going scoreless vs. Georgia, the freshmen let a pass from Ashton Hagans sail through his hands out of bounds, prompting Hagans to yell at him, “Wake the f— up!”
— Just-in (@Justin_BBN) January 19, 2019
Thankfully, Keldon did wake up, finishing with 20 points off 7-11 from the floor, 2-5 from behind the three-point line, his best offensive outing since the North Carolina game. When asked about it after the game, Keldon said he appreciated Ashton’s tough love.
“He just told me, you’ve got to wake up, man. It’s not acceptable. If we’re going to be the team we’re gonna be, you’ve got to wake up. We need you to play. I did it for my teammates. They had my back and I had theirs. I just went out there and played.”
Not everyone would accept Ashton’s call-out in such a mature manner, especially a freshman used to leading his team in scoring; however, Keldon said he knew it came from a good place.
“Definitely. In a positive way. I know he always wants what’s best for me. We might argue sometimes on the court, but I know my teammates always want what’s best for me.”
“We all know that we have each other’s back, regardless of if it’s now, beginning of the season, or later down the road. You’ve just got to accept it because if they’re telling you something, they’re not just doing it just because. They’re doing it because they want what’s best for you and what’s best for the team.”
Once Keldon did get going, Ashton kept encouraging him.
“He was just like, you’ve got to just keep playing. Just keep going, keep going. We need you. We need you. Same thing for him. We need him the whole game. We need everybody. Tyler, Reid, PJ, Jemarl, everybody that played tonight.”
Tyler Herro said it wasn’t just Ashton holding people accountable; early in the game, he said something similar to PJ Washington.
“Really all the way from the beginning of the game to the end. When Ashton said that Keldon, I was saying it to PJ. Just sticking together. Keldon, he took it the right way and when guys are taking it the right way, the sky’s the limit because we all have each other’s back. As long as we’re holding each other accountable, we’ll be fine.”