Former Morgan City players are on ULL’s NCAA Tournament team

Louisiana-Lafayette sophomore forward Shawn Long is one of the Cajuns’ leading scorers. Long played at Morgan City High School.
Photo Courtesy of Louisiana Ragin’ Cajun Athletics

Kevin Johnson, an assistant coach at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, played basketball at Morgan City High School.
Photo Courtesy of Louisiana Ragin’ Cajun Athletics

That’s what’s been fun about being around this group of guys, We can score, and we can score in bunches.”

When Louisiana-Lafayette takes on Creighton Friday afternoon for its second-round NCAA basketball contest, Morgan City will be represented on the court and on the sidelines.
Sophomore forward Shawn Long, one of the Cajuns’ leading scorers, as well as ULL assistant coach Kevin Johnson, both hail from Morgan City as graduates of Morgan City High School.
While they graduated nearly 30 years apart — Johnson in 1984 and Long in 2011 — their bond goes further than representing the area and their high school.
“I grew up on the same street as Shawn’s mom, and I knew all of his uncles, and I knew his grandparents,” Johnson said.
Johnson, who continued his playing career at University of Texas-Pan American where he enjoyed a standout career before playing briefly overseas in England, has been a coach for the past 18 years. He also knew Long’s older brother, Reginald Long Jr., but had left Morgan City by the time Shawn Long was born.
Johnson, who is in his fourth season with the Ragin’ Cajuns, was united with Long about two years ago when Long transferred from Mississippi State to play at ULL.
Now, both will be looking to help ULL (23-11), seeded No. 14 in the West Region, to success in the NCAA tournament. The Cajuns’ will begin action at 2:10 p.m. Friday at the AT&T Center in San Antonio against Creighton (26-7).
Creighton and ULL will be meeting for the first time since Creighton defeated ULL 63-58 during Johnson’s first season.
Creighton features one of the most prolific scorers in NCAA history in Doug McDermott, who has been named National Player of the Year by five agencies.
He averages 26.9 points per game as well as seven rebounds and shoots 45.4 percent from 3-point range.
McDermott is ranked No. 5 in NCAA history with 3,105 career points.
Johnson said he thought ULL got a “great” first-round draw.
“I know they’re a good team in the Big East Conference, but I think the team that we played four years ago might’ve even been better than this team and that was a great ballgame, so I’m looking forward to a really good ballgame,” Johnson said.
As for ULL, Johnson said the team is one that can score a lot of points. The squad is ranked 12th in the NCAA in scoring offense.
“That’s what’s been fun about being around this group of guys,” Johnson said. “We can score and we can score in bunches.”
Long, who could not be reached for comment for this article, is averaging 18.7 points per game, 10.5 rebounds and 2.7 blocks.
He was a first-team All-Sun Belt Conference performer this season, and through March 16, ranked fifth in the country in double-doubles, eight in rebounds per game, 17th in offensive rebounds, 28th in blocked shots per game and 57th in scoring.
Elfrid Payton leads the squad, averaging 19.1 points per game, 5.9 rebounds, 6 assists and 2.3 steals.
Johnson, along with Long, will be taking his first trip to the NCAA Tournament this year. Johnson said the tournament experience will give him something in common with his brother, David Johnson III, who also played at Morgan City High and later played at Syracuse where he earned All-American honors. David Johnson was drafted with the 26th overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft.
“He was able to go four years in a row. … We discuss a lot of basketball and this is one thing that I never had in common with him so now after this experience, I can say, ‘Hey, I’ve been to the Big Dance.’”
NOTE: St. Mary Parish also is represented by Aaron LeBlanc, who is from Charenton but attended Catholic High-New Iberia. … Look for more on Creighton on Page 8 of today’s newspaper.

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