After two months and over 15,000 votes, Sherbrooke Suns import Grant Johnson has taken out the title of Big V Player of the Decade.
Johnson’s Big V career may have only lasted one year, but no one can deny he made his mark as an import on the Big V stage.
In the early months of 2014, the 6’5 guard was touring Australia with the PSM All-stars searching for an import gig after he’d finished his college career with Winona State.
While playing in Queensland, Sherbrooke Suns coach at the time, Brent Reid, received an email from former teammate Quincy Henderson urging that he make contact with Johnson. Sure enough, Johnson was reached and packed his bag for a season with the Sherbrooke Suns State Championship Men’s team.
“Man, my pathway to the Big V is so long I’m not sure how I can answer it without writing a book,” says Johnson.
“I was touring Brisbane, the Gold Coast, and Melbourne at the time. A guy who played at the same college as I did put me in contact with Jonny Lee from Sherbrooke. Long story short I left the PSM tour early and signed with Sherbrooke. It was actually between Ipswich and Sherbrooke, but I chose Sherbrooke off of recommendation. When I rocked up, I think everyone at Sherbrooke was like, who is this guy, I don’t know about him.”
No matter the first impressions, by the end of the 2014 Big V season everyone would know the name Grant Johnson.
Johnson went on to become the 2014 State Championship Men Most Valuable Player and top scorer, receive a spot in the All Star 5 team, average 27.4 points per game and feature three times as Player of the Month.
All these accolades began with his very first match with Sherbrooke, one that Johnson remembers clear as day.
“We played Waverley our first game, they had Sedale Threatt (Jr), Ivan Platenik, Bradley Kelleher, and Brad Bridgewater. That game set the tone for me personally for the rest of the season,” Johnson expresses.
“I was coming off a short stint in the NBA D League at that time and it was a completely different game. I remember I came in super aggressive, got in foul trouble and was getting called for multiple travels that game. It was my worst and most frustrated game of the year. We ended up getting crushed and I knew after that I wasn’t going to have another performance like that.”
Sure enough, Johnson’s game adapted as the season went on and his level of skill made him a known threat in the competition amongst a number of Big V icons.
“Man, I loved playing against a few people. I enjoyed playing against Thadd Varmall because he was second in the league in scoring and also a guard so we would guard each other. Also, the last time we played them we both had over 40 points! I have not been able to find that tape so if anyone has it please let me know,” Johnson laughs.
“I also liked playing against Jermaine Maybank, Ivan Platenik, Kale Harrison. The game I remember the most was beating Corio Bay at their home. I just remember that game being a dog fight and I loved it. They were a great team and it was fun to always compete in a heated battle.”
With so many valuable moments on the court, off the court Johnson took every moment of his overseas experience for what it really was.
“I hold my season in the Big V close to my heart. It was the first time I left the country and Mick Spruhan from Sherbrooke openly brought me into his home. It was a bit weird at first until I settled in and I think it turned into the best situation it could have been,
“His son Jake was monumental for me, who also played on the team. He was an immediate friend for me and definitely held me together sometimes. He truly made my transition to another country a hell of a lot better.”
Recognised as an absolute beast of the game, Johnson said he remembers his year in the Big V for more than just the basketball he got to play. It remains so special because people he came into contact with… when he wasn’t fouling them that is.
“Big V was important to me in many ways. It was a a big steppingstone for me and was one of, if not the most fun year of my career. Most of the memories I have are actually not basketball related. I remember the relationships I built and still have today,
“I would personally like to thank the staff Mick, Brent, and Carl. You guys were absolutely awesome. I will forever be thankful for everything you guys did while I was at Sherbrooke. I also want to thank all the guys Titus, Jonny, Truman, Smitty, Bryan, David, Fooksy, Coffee, Jake, Tyson, Casey, Craig, Gibbo, and Hayden. I am grateful to have been part of a great group.”
At the conclusion of 2014 Big V season, many were hopeful Johnson may go again for another season. On the hunt for a new opportunity, Johnson finished up 2014 by taking his talents all the way to Finland to play with Kouvot Kouvola.
In 2015 he returned to Victoria, this time playing in SEABL with the Bendigo Braves. Since then he has travelled Europe with teams from Luxemburg to Sweden.
Six years after he first stepped on to the Big V scene, the Big V community still remembers Johnson as the league’s Player of the Decade.
PLAYER OF THE DECADE – MALE
GRANT JOHNSON IS YOUR MALE BIG V PLAYER OF THE DECADE 🔥💥🏆Johnson’s Big V career may have only lasted one year with Sherbrooke Suns, but no one can deny he made his mark as an import on the Big V stage. FULL STORY ON JOHNSON 👉 bit.ly/3guWo5MPosted by Big V Basketball on Tuesday, 26 May 2020
“Honestly, it was an honour to even have my name in the conversation. I didn’t think I would make it into the second round of voting, let alone win it. I had one great year in the Big V and if we are looking at one year then to have that much of a positive impact means the world to me.
“There are a few guys in that league who are more than deserving. Guys like Ivan, Snow, and Reardon all had legitimate careers in Big V. I can only express an immense amount of gratitude for everyone who nominated and voted for me.”
For Johnson, the ending of one Big V decade means the beginning of a whole new one. A decade where, he hopes, imports and players such as himself can thrive on the positivity that surrounds the league as much as he did.
“First, for imports I would say to just enjoy it. You are overseas in a great country and city, with great people, and great weather. It is easy to get caught up in a lot of things and not enjoy the experience when you are living it. Just have fun with it, not many people get that opportunity. Also, it is a league that can get you a lot of exposure to other leagues,
“I understand that some of the local players just play for fun and some play to have a career. If you are wanting to extend your career into other leagues or even countries, I would say to just continue to work hard at your craft.
“It doesn’t matter where you play, people will notice talent and hard work.”