BUFFALO, N.Y. - Juston Johnson just wants to play. Last year, the West Seneca West basketball player was a force to be reckoned with on the hardwood and now he may not play because of a dispute over his years of eligibility.
Johnson is a senior. He has already played six years and Section VI officials informed him that he has used up his eligibility. He admits he is "really frustrated, frustrated, sad and overall just upset because they are trying to take something away from me that I worked hard for my whole life and it's for reasons that shouldn't it even be reasons."
The reason behind the eligibility has to do with an injury Juston suffered going into his eighth grade year. He broke his arm and was unable to play. His parents decided to home-school him for eighth grade. According to Article 78, the question is whether the year he was home-schooled and unable to play should count as a penalty against Johnson's six years of eligibility.
Johnson did play football this year for West Seneca West.
He spent his freshman and sophomore years at Bishop Timon High School before transferring back to the West Seneca public school district. His brother Des Randall is the coach of the team.
Johnson's father, a former NFL player, is fighting the ruling of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHAA) and he's also taken the matter to New York State Supreme Court where the matter is in the hands of Judge Dennis Ward.
"We have evidence that we qualify for it (eligibility waiver) based on their rules and based on what our doctors and sports scientists say about his injury," said Juston's father.
An appeals panel of NYSPHAA upheld the decision. Johnson's father Demeris Johnson wants Judge Ward to issue a waiver allowing his 18-year-old son to play basketball and a stay while the NYSPHAA continues to mull over the case. Johnson believes not allowing his son to play will hurt his ability to be recruited. College scouts are expected to attend the game tonight and next week and Johnson will not be playing.
"Juston's issue is a major issue to us in our family, but it's a small issue in the big picture of what's been going on in Section VI for a long time. It is the proverbial elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about" said the Demeris Johnson.
A court decision by Judge Ward is expected on Wednesday, December 12, at 2 p.m.