Johnson provides options at post, rebounding presence


Photo by Katerina Pourliakas

(from left to right) Jayce Johnson, Theo John and Ed Morrow

Graduate transfer and men’s basketball center Jayce Johnson’s path to Marquette started with associate head coach Stan Johnson.

“When Stan Johnson was at ASU, that was one school I was really wanting to go after,” Jayce said. “(When) he left, my dad has always had a good relationship with him, and when I was opened up to recruitment, we started talking again.”

While the adjustment to Marquette’s style of play hasn’t been seamless, Jayce is expected to play a crucial role at post for head coach Steve Wojciechowski’s roster.

“At first it was a struggle,” Jayce said. “But I’ve been getting in the gym running, working hard. It’s a little different dynamic in the way that (we) play and how fast (we) play, but all the running we’ve been doing, I’ve been catching up.”

Wojciechowski said his plan this season is to play two bigs, switching between Jayce, Ed Morrow and Theo John.

Jayce said he is excited to play this throw back style of play.

“They’re both great players,” Jayce said. “The fact that they’re actually implementing it and playing a power game is amazing.”

The Mission Viejo, California, native transferred to Marquette after graduating in 2019 with a degree in psychology and a minor in health from the University of Utah.

He began his collegiate career with Utah as a redshirt and sitting on the bench. While he only averaged four points and 4.3 rebounds and recorded 20 blocks in 32 games as a redshirt freshman, he greatly improved in the 2018-’19 season. In his last year as a Ute, he started in 24 of the 28 games he played and averaged seven points and 7.5 rebounds per game while shooting 59% from the floor.

Jayce doesn’t shoot too often from 15 feet around the rim. He said his strengths are offensive rebounding and distributing the ball to his teammates.

“I can move the ball around, play in the high post, get the ball, swing it,” Jayce said. “Being a big post, offensive rebounds, blocked shots, good defense, just finishing around the rim. That’s my thing.”

Free throws were a challenge for Johnson in 2018-’19 with the Utes, posting only a 40% free throw percentage.

“I’m sure you know about my last school,” Jayce said of the low percentage. “Stan has got me in the gym everyday shooting a ton of them. … My form’s getting better (and) smoother.”

After playing with the team over the last few months, Jayce said being a Golden Eagle has exceeded his expectations.

“They’re pushing me every day,” Jayce said. “Just to see this team and how hard they work, it’s put me on another level from my last team.”

Jayce said he is especially satisfied with his chemistry with senior guard Markus Howard. Jayce said he’s already gotten timing down for setting screens for him.

“Markus is a great player and just being able to play with him and him coming back has just been amazing,” Jayce said.

Although he’s only been part of Wojciechowski’s squad for a few months, Jayce said the rest of the team has made him feel at home.

“I feel like I’ve been here all my years,” Jayce said.