March 1, 2012
Kevin Johnson to be inducted into National High School Hall of Fame for basketball, baseball excellence

By Joe Davidson

Someone find Kevin Johnson and hustle him over to a stack of Lottery tickets armed with a trusty scratch-off dime. The Mayor is rolling in momentum about now.

Still elated with the tentative new arena agreement and humbled by the standing ovation at Power Balance Pavilion on Tuesday when he wasn't bear-hugging Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof, Johnson learned today that he will be inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame in July.

This Hall honor certainly validates Johnson's remarkable playing career at Sacramento High School in Oak Park from nearly 30 years ago. He was an impossible-to-stop point guard for the Dragons under coach Ron McKenna in 1983 when he led the state in scoring at 32.5 points. McKenna, who now spends his game nights watching grandson Ryan Manning play for top-ranked Sheldon High in the playoffs, still maintains that KJ is the quickest, most explosive baseline-to-baseline prep player he has ever seen. Some might argue that Johnson was one of the quickest to ever play the NBA, too.

Johnson also enjoyed baseball, and he was dominant on the diamond, batting .500 for the Dragons. He was drafted by the A's and played minor league ball in the organization while at Cal, where he set a bevy of records for the Bears.

Johnson played 13 NBA seasons, mostly with the Phoenix Suns. He has been the
Sacramento Mayor since 2008.

A year ago this week, Johnson sat with a mixture of glum and glee at Power Balance, watching the girls and boys teams from his beloved old high school win Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championships.

Johnson spoke proudly of the current-day Dragons, heaping praise on the coaches and the student athletes, but he was also greatly concerned on the future of the Kings. The mood then was that the Kings were headed to Anaheim, that Power Balance would soon go dark.

Later that evening, Johnson went to the Dave Hotell Pavilion to shoot baskets to burn off steam. He said it was the first time in a long while since he'd even touched a ball, and it was certainly the longest time shooting since the end of his playing career.

Now? Johnson might just head back out to the old place the kids call "The Hotell" and see if he's still got some jump shot left.

If the National High School Hall of Fame has a pick-up game this summer, we sense KJ will be ready to blast down the lane.

In the past seven years, the other Sacramento-area athletes to be inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame include Debbie Meyer of Rio Americano (set 15 world records in swimming, won three gold medals in the 1968 Olympics); Karen Smith of Rio Americano (dominant in three sports in late 1970s and set section assist records); Denise Curry of Davis (pioneering basketball great in the 1970s) and Cordova baseball coach Guy Anderson, who faced Johnson in the Metro League in the early '80s and is still coaching the Lancers.
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter: @sb_joedavidson

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Bee staff writers Joe Davidson and Bill Paterson provide news, analysis and insight on the area high school sports scene in their Prep Blog. Have a question to ask them? Send them an email any time at or

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