Few players in the NIC announce their presence like Tra'Veon Johnson. The South Bend Washington senior threw down the first of many impressive dunks in seventh grade.
"I dunked a volleyball," Johnson says, remembering his very first slam. "I wanted to keep going. I dunked a girls' ball. Then I worked my way to a men's ball. I'm like, 'Oh, I'm getting pretty good at this!' "
The same can be said for Johnson's entire skill set. He is one of the top scorers in the area, averaging 24.3 points per game. Johnson models his offensive attack after his favorite players, Jabari Parker and LeBron James.
"Come out, come in, I'll post you up," says the versatile Johnson. "Mid-range jump shot, three ball."
"I haven't had that player in a long time that can play inside and outside," says Washington head coach Chad Johnston. "He's improved big time on his jump shot. I'm really happy with the work he put in this summer."
Family and faith are the two things that drive Johnson outside of basketball. He wears No. 22 for an aunt that died of breast cancer. He is heavily involved with his church. And he even babysits Coach Johnston's two little boys.
"They're some good kids," Johnson says. "They're hyper at times, but I think all kids are."
"Oh, they love him," adds Johnston. "There's no talking back to him. He's like the God in our house."
The Panthers are the only team to beat Penn this year. While Johnson prepares to lead Washington into sectionals, his coach is relishing a little more time with a special player.
"He ranks right up there with the best I've coached, no question," Johnston says. "He's just not really satisfied with where we are right now. He wants to get better, and that's really important to us. Those great ones want to get better each and every day. They don't want to stay status quo."
Washington will face Penn at 6 p.m. on Friday in the sectional semifinals.