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Memphis’ Johnson may need season-ending shoulder surgery

<p>Memphis senior point guard Kedren Johnson in action last season.&nbsp;</p>
Memphis senior point guard Kedren Johnson in action last season. 

University of Memphis senior point guard Kedren Johnson may need season-ending shoulder surgery, Tigers coach Josh Pastner said at his press conference Thursday.

Johnson first injured his shoulder in Memphis’ September workouts in a defensive drill. As he drove to the basket, a guy cut him off and nailed him in the shoulder as he was attacking the basket, which resulted in Johnson having severe pain in his shoulder. He then aggravated his shoulder injury at the Tigers’ first practice Saturday, according to Pastner.

“At our Rebounders practice (last Saturday) he threw his first pass,” the seventh-year coach said. “First time to be in contact since that day and he threw a pass behind him and he felt the shoulder have severe pain.”

Pastner said it’s still a day-by-day process, and a timetable will be clearer after Johnson meets with the doctors Friday. If surgery is required, the recovery period is estimated at nine months, meaning Johnson will miss his senior season. He previously had a shoulder injury in his time at Vanderbilt University.

Johnson, the projected starting point guard heading into the 2015-16 season, averaged 6.7 points and 2.7 assists per game and started 17 games in his first season with the Blue and Gray after transferring from Vanderbilt last year.

While him being out of shape made the headlines, Pastner said Johnson played the season, with the same injured shoulder, an injury that occurred during a five-on-five drill last preseason and cost Johnson three weeks of conditioning.

“People say why couldn’t he condition in those three weeks,” Pastner said. “Because the doctors at the time said he couldn’t be bouncing around with the shoulder because it could have caused more damage.”

Nevertheless, Johnson’s play picked up towards the end of the season as he got into better shape as he averaged 11.3 points and 4.7 assists in his last seven games. If Johnson has surgery, he will be the second starter (Austin Nichols the other) from last year’s squad to leave the lineup in the last three months.

Though Pastner said he is hopeful Johnson will be able to fight through the pain and play this season, in the event he doesn’t, freshman point guard Jeremiah Martin and senior guard Ricky Tarrant will be asked to step up and help compensate for Johnson’s loss.

Pastner said he believes his team can still undersell and perform well in 2016, but they have to have their key guys healthy in order to do so. Pastner also said, right now, Johnson is very frustrated.

“He’s worked hard on his weight,” Pastner said. “He’s wanted to get back. He’s excited this season, and this team. He’s very frustrated right now. It’s the best way to describe it.”

Memphis senior point guard Kedren Johnson in action last season. 

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