With Andover Boys Basketball down by three points in the final seconds against Worcester Academy, Co-Captain Dallion Johnson ’20 sunk a fadeaway 3-pointer from the top of the key to tie the game with 5.8 seconds remaining, forcing overtime in a game Andover went on to win. According to Head Coach Terrell Ivory ’00, Johnson is one of the most reliable players on the team and rarely falters in important moments.
“He’s fearless in the moments where a lot of the kids would be nervous… He lives for those moments and that’s why he makes so many big shots,” said Ivory.
Co-Captain Matteo Whelton ’20 added, “I think when we’re down in a game we’re never out of it due to [Johnson’s] scoring ability. He makes us believe at all times that if he gets hot, we can get back in the game.”
Coach Ivory said that Johnson reminds him of an N.B.A. player he coached at Davidson College.
Coach Ivory said, “He reminds me a lot of Stephen Curry. He’s a really good shooter and he really handles the ball well. He takes those deep threes. But he’s also really good at creating his own shots.”
Along with his scoring abilities, Johnson’s defense has greatly improved this year, according to Coach Ivory.
“His defense has gotten so much better. It’s one of those things he didn’t focus on so much, but you can tell he really cares about stopping the other person. He can be our best scorer, but he can also guard the best scorer on the other team,” said Coach Ivory.
In addition to his contributions as a player, Johnson is a strong leader because his grit sets an example for the rest of the team, according to Whelton and Coach Ivory.
Coach Ivory said, “People see how hard he works, and they want to emulate that. They feel like he sets an expectation that they have to meet. He’s not yelling at the team and telling them what to do, but they see that he works out and how effective and how it makes him a better player and they want to do the same thing.”
Whelton added, “I think he has made me realize how hard he works, and I’ve tried to match that. I feel like you don’t want someone to outwork you, so I feel like he pushes us by showing him how hard he works so I feel like we have to match that intensity.”
Johnson said that his ability to listen to his teammates is something that has made him successful as a leader.
“I’d say that I listen and I’m open to my teammate’s ideas and I am hardworking. I get my teammates to work hard and I’m always trying to help out. I also got to make sure to stay positive so my team can be positive too,” he said.
Coach Ivory said he believes that Johnson has helped grow the team’s strong chemistry this season.
“One of the things I really love about the team this year is that you can tell that there is really good chemistry. Like they really care about each other. He’ll talk with everybody on the team. There’s not really a situation where there’s one group of guys on one side of the locker room and one group on the other side of the locker room, because he’s one of those guys who brings people together,” said Ivory.
Johnson added, “I liked when we first met each other because we formed strong bonds and connections. The team’s chemistry wasn’t hard to build up. That’s what I like about the team. We all play well together, and we like to play with each other.”
Johnson said he also strives to create close connections with all of his teammates outside of practice and games.
“[I’m] always checking in with them to see how they’re doing. We usually sit together during dinner because that’s the time we can catch up with each other and talk about how school is going and everything outside of basketball and have fun.”
For the remainder of the season, Johnson says he aims to help the team improve mentally and looks forward to potential playoff games.
“[To keep improving], I just look to stay positive and getting everybody working their hardest so we can make the playoffs. So, that’s the main goal: make the playoffs and compete for a championship.”