The University of Miami men’s basketball team finished last in the Atlantic Coast Conference this past season, but came on strong in the ACC Tournament. A key returner is redshirt sophomore Reggie Johnson. Johnson averaged 6.4 points and 4.6 rebounds while leading the team in free-throw percentage, shooting at a 78.5 percent clip.
Get to know “Big Reg” a little bit better.
The Miami Hurricane: How would you best describe this past year?
Reggie Johnson: It was so much fun. Just playing in the ACC was unreal. When you play teams like Wake Forest, Duke and UNC, you know you’re legit. It was great traveling and being in hotels, and I just love my teammates.
TMH: Did you expect to be that effective your first year?
RJ: I honestly thought so. I always had the right mentality. I was just waiting on an opportunity. Once Dwayne [Collins] went down in the ACC Tournament, I had the opportunity and I made the most of it.
TMH: What did you learn from your redshirt year to your first year?
RJ: I learned a ton. The speed of the game is so much different from high school to college. Dwayne Collins taught me a lot. He showed me moves in the post and I became a better player. I treated practice like it was my games and kept telling my teammates to just wait until next year. I treated my practices like I was going up against Duke and North Carolina.
TMH: How much weight did you lose and how hard was it?
RJ: I lost 40 pounds. It was real hard. I had to change my whole eating style. Whole milk became 2 percent milk. Frosted Flakes became Cheerios. Fried chicken became baked chicken.
TMH: What’s your best move in the paint?
RJ: I actually like backing down the defender, then doing a little hook shot.
TMH: Tell me about the ACC Tournament when you were named to the ACC All-Tournament Second Team.
RJ: It was a great experience because it was in my hometown. I knew all the guys on Wake Forest, so that was fun. Virginia Tech is a hard-nosed team and Duke is Duke. It was frustrating losing to Duke, but we realized that they played together and that showed us what playing together can do because they ended up winning the national championship. They are not the most talented team, but they played together.
TMH: What makes you such a good free-throw shooter?
RJ: I guess I just have a soft touch. I actually led my high school team in free-throw percentage as well.
TMH: Why did you choose UM and what other offers did you have?
RJ: I had offers from Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and VCU, but I chose UM because Coach [Frank] Haith was the most persistent and wanted me the most. He was always in Carolina watching my high school games or visiting my house. I wanted to let him know that I appreciated his support so I came to UM.
TMH: Do you think playing a tougher non-conference schedule next year will help this team?
RJ: I think it will definitely help. Playing great competition earlier on will prepare us for the ACC. I know Syracuse has a sweet dome so I want to go there.
TMH: What is something that people don’t know about Reggie Johnson?
RJ: I love singing. I am singing all the time in the locker room. I like Boyz II Men. I can actually dance too. Adrian Thomas taught me all the Miami moves.
TMH: What was your welcome to the ACC moment?
RJ: Our first ACC game against Boston College. We got totally demolished on the boards and I could not believe it. There are 6-foot-1 guys out rebounding 6-foot-8 guys. We were more talented, but BC played harder. It taught us that you cannot quit.
TMH: How good can Miami be next year?
RJ: We can be real good. I’m looking forward to it. I cannot wait for the season. We were on such a roll at the end of last year I wanted to go to the NIT. We will come out hungry. We competed with the national champions twice, so that should say enough.
Justin Antweil may be contacted at email@example.com.