Johnson brings size, toughness to Panthers

Halifax forward commits to UPEI for 2017-18

Jason Malloy jmalloy@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on January 10, 2017

Vernelle Johnson will be a member of the UPEI Panthers men’s basketball season in 2017-18.

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CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – The UPEI Panthers have added some size to its frontcourt for next season.

Vernelle Johnson, a six-foot-six forward, has committed to the Panthers. The Halifax native is currently enrolled in the international baccalaureate program at Halifax Grammar School.

“His size and tremendous potential will certainly benefit us,” said head coach Tim Kendrick. “He’s certainly big enough and strong enough to be able to play in the post in our league.”

When I came to UPEI for a visit, I immediately felt like family. The love that the coaching staff and team showed me made my decision a no-brainer. Vernelle Johnson

Johnson was a forward with the Nova Scotia under-17 team that won the national championship in 2015.

“When I came to UPEI for a visit, I immediately felt like family,” he said. “The love that the coaching staff and team showed me made my decision a no-brainer. Being able to take kinesiology and be somewhat close to home also made my decision easy.”

The Panthers (2-7) have a veteran lineup this season that includes guards Tyler Scott, Lorenzo Parker and Jake Kendrick as well as forwards Dut Dut and Mark Matheson playing their final year of eligibility.

Kendrick said having Johnson on board helps the team plan its 2017-18 roster, which can include veterans Samy Mohamed, Vishal Banipal, Stefan Vujisic and Milorad Sedlarevic entering their fourth or fifth season.

“He’s a kid we identified early and really wanted to get,” Kendrick said. “Now that he’s committed and involved in the program we can start trying to fill some of the other spots.”

Kendrick said the team wants to get bigger, stronger and tougher. He said he thinks Johnson helps fill those areas and can contribute right away.

“He’s got real good hands. I think his game is going to develop well over his five years.”