BOWLING GREEN, KY – NOVEMBER 19: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers forward Justin Johnson (23) during the second half at E.A. Diddle Arena(Photo by Steve Roberts/Icon Sportswire)
WKU senior forward Justin Johnson has been named one of 30 candidates for the 2017-18 Senior CLASS Award, the organization announced Thursday.
To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
The 30 candidates will be narrowed to a field of 10 finalists in February, and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one candidate who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition.
Johnson – a 6-foot-7 native of Hazard, Ky. – has been a standout on the court for the Hilltoppers for four years and a strong presence in the community for just as long.
He ranks 22nd on WKU’s all-time scoring list with 1,308 career points and needs just 27 rebounds to tie for 10th on WKU’s all-time boards list. He currently has 829 career rebounds.
Johnson is one of just five active NCAA players with at least 1,300 career points and 800 rebounds. He’s tied for ninth among active NCAA players for career rebounds and tied for 10th in career double-doubles (29).
Johnson also showed off his natural athleticism this year by spending spring practice, summer workouts and the beginning of fall camp with the football team as a tight end before returning to basketball in August.
Johnson graduated in just three years with a bachelor’s degree in sport management. He’s now pursuing his master’s degree in intercollegiate athletic administration. He’s been named multiple times to the Conference USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll for student-athletes with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better.
Johnson, a team captain, has been a steady leader for the WKU program through years of coaching and roster turnover. He is one of just two active players returning from last year and is the team’s only four-year player.
He also worked tirelessly in the offseason to return from both knee surgery and deliberate weight gain, both of which were attributed to his time spent with the football team. Johnson often worked out four times a day in the offseason to shed the weight he gained purposefully for football and to rehab his knee back into playing shape.
Johnson has been a staple of the community since he arrived at WKU. He’s taken multiple mission trips to Belize and China, where he’s spent time with underprivileged children in addition to playing games. He did the same this August in Costa Rica, where he played with children at a local orphanage during WKU’s foreign tour.
Johnson has also volunteered to work with senior citizens at Bowling Green Retirement Village, spoken at youth basketball games during the playing season, visited with special needs children from the city’s Camp Happy Days in previous years and volunteered several times for the United Way Day of Caring, including time with the area Boys & Girls Club.
The Senior CLASS Award winners will be announced during the 2018 NCAA Men’s Final Four and NCAA Women’s Final Four this spring.
For more information on each of the candidates, visit seniorCLASSaward.com.
WKU is the only school represented on the Football, Volleyball and Men’s Basketball Senior CLASS Award candidate lists. Quarterback Mike White was named a candidate for football, and volleyball setter Jessica Lucas earned Senior CLASS Award First-Team All-America status.
How to follow the Hilltoppers: For complete information on WKU Hilltopper Basketball, follow the team’s social media channels, @WKUBasketball on Twitter, @WKUBasketball on Instagram, and WKU Basketball on Facebook.
-@WKUSports-

Zach Greenwell
Associate Director
WKU Athletic Communications/Media Relations

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