Indiana fifth-year guard Xavier Johnson won’t be suspended for any games during the 2022-23 season after his offseason traffic incident.
But he’ll need a ride to all of the games at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
IU head coach Mike Woodson was asked on Thursday at the program’s media day whether his starting guard will miss any time after he was caught in April speeding in Bloomington and attempted to evade police in his car.
In August Johnson plead guilty to the charge of reckless driving at and unreasonable high speed so as to endanger safety, a Class C misdemeanor. A felony charge of resisting law enforcement was dismissed.
With one caveat, that was the end of the story for his head coach.
“That’s all behind us,” Woodson said. “He’s gotten through that process. He would have to do some community service. X has grown a lot, based on the things that he’s done this summer. He’s put himself in a wonderful position with me being the coach that I like everything about what X is doing now, because he is doing the right things on and off the court.”
But Woodson wasn’t willing to move on without Johnson paying a price perhaps a bit more harsh than just missing game time.
Woodson asked for the keys.
“He doesn’t have a vehicle anymore,” Woodson said. “I took that away from him. If that’s punishment, it’s punishment, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. We’re just trying to do the things that are necessary to help us win basketball games, and I think he’s made a major step in that direction to help us.”
How exactly did Woodson take away a 22 year-old’s car?
He turned Michael and La’Kesha Johnson.
“I think he had a conversation with my parents and they agreed upon it, so I agreed upon it,” Johnson said. “I didn’t care, honestly, about my car. I love to play basketball. That’s what I came here to do. I came here to get an education.”
Agreeing to give up his car became the relatively easy part for Johnson compared to how things appeared initially. He said on Thursday he thought the April incident had cost him his future with the team.
“I thought my career was over, honestly,” Johnson said. “I got my second chance. I’m mad at myself for doing something like that, but I’m glad God gave me a second chance to come back and play, what I love to do.”
The Virginia product finished second on the team a year ago, averaging 12.1 points, and led the team in assists (172, 5.1 per game) and steals (40, 1.2 per game). He was also second on the team in 3-point shooting (38.3%), shot 78.2% from the line, and was second in free throws made with 115.
The 6-foot-3 Johnson was named Honorable mention All-Big Ten by the media. His assist total was the fifth most in a season in program history, and his season per game average the eighth best ever.
Johnson was playing his best basketball in the last third of the 2021-22 season, and Woodson says that has carried into the summer.
“He just came in with a totally different attitude, which was kind of nice to see,” Woodson said. “It means to me he’s growing up. It has displayed nicely on the basketball court, because out of all the summer play that I’ve watched and been a part this summer, he’s probably been the brightest of them all.”
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