Marvin Johnson

Marvin Johnson (middle) signs autographs after the Enid Outlaws home opener on Sunday, March 12, 2023, at Stride Bank Center.

ENID, Okla. — After starring at Ardmore High School, Marvin Johnson is now a pro basketball player in his rookie season for the TBL’s Enid Outlaws.

From Ardmore to Eastern Illinois to Norman to Enid, Johnson’s road has been long.

“I would say it’s a blessing,” Johnson said of being able to play pro ball in his home state. “It’s a blessing to be able to play in Oklahoma still and be a pro basketball player. I still get to play in front of my family and friends. It (Enid) isn’t too far to go, it’s definitely a blessing.”

It look him a few years to get to Norman after graduating from Ardmore. Johnson went to Coffeyville Community College for two years before transferring to Eastern Illinois after one season.

Being from a small town like Ardmore helped Johnson get ready for Coffeyville and for Enid.

“I’m from Ardmore and it’s a small town, so I was already ready for it,” Johnson said. “JuCo and being from a small town humbled me a lot. In Ardmore, everybody is trying to make it and do something with themselves.”

In two seasons at Eastern Illinois, Johnson played in 52 games, starting 31 — 22 in his last season. His senior year, Johnson averaged 30.4 minutes per game, up from 22.8 in his junior season. He also averaged 14.3 points per game, which would be the highest of his collegiate career.

Due to COVID, all players in college when the pandemic began were given an extra fifth year of eligibility.

Johnson chose to transfer home and play for the Sooners for his Super Senior season.

“I wanted to come home,” Johnson said. “I was committed to a different school (Arkansas) before. They (OU) started recruiting me and I started to get that home vibe and missing home so I made my decision.”

At Oklahoma, Johnson played in 18 games, averaging 11.8 minutes per game.

That season, the Sooners went 19-16, and got a No. 1 seed in the NIT before losing in the second round.

Johnson averaged 4.2 points per game and shot 44% from the field and 33% from the three-point line. Johnson also averaged 2.3 rebounds per game.

Between his last college game at Oklahoma in the 2022 NCAA Tournament, Johnson played 19 minutes and was 2-4 shooting and 1-2 from the three-point line. He finished with five points and four rebounds.

A lot has changed between then and now for Johnson.

“My mentality has changed,” he said. “I’m hungrier and I want it more. I’m trying to win every game.”

Now, in his rookie season in the TBL, Johnson leads the Outlaws in assists per game (4.7) and free-throw percentage (64.3%). His 15.7 points per game are second on the team. Johnson is averaging 5.7 rebounds per game, also second on the team.

Being a high-level college player and being a pro aren’t too different in Johnson’s eyes.

“It’s really not too much different. It’s the same amount of basketball,” he said. “Now that you are a pro, you have to be more professional and it’s all up to you now.”

Johnson is currently limited with a hamstring injury. He is battling back and trying to get as many minutes as he can.

“We didn’t want to push it,” said Outlaws coach Ed Corporal after Enid’s home opener Sunday — a 95-89 loss to Wichita. “I would have played him more, but his injury is nagging him a little bit. He brings experience, but he is still learning. The pro game is a lot different than college. Once he finds his niche, he is going to be one heck of a player.”

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Becker is sports editor for the Enid News & Eagle.

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