Keyontae Johnson updates: Florida Gators star following simple commands after return to Gainesville

By Adam Silverstein
December 14, 2020
Keyontae Johnson updates: Florida Gators star following simple commands after return to Gainesville

Image Credit: UAA

Florida Gators star forward Keyontae Johnson remains in “critical but stable condition” after being transferred from Tallahassee Memorial Hospital to UF Health in Gainesville, Florida. Johnson collapsed Saturday morning during a college basketball game against Florida State. He is now “following simple commands and undergoing further tests,” Florida announced Monday afternoon.

Johnson’s grandfather, Larry DeJarnett, told USA Today on Monday that Johnson was placed in a medically induced coma in Tallahassee. DeJarnett also said doctors hoped to bring Johnson out of the coma on Monday.

The decision to place Johnson into the coma was made amid a concern about potential brain injury, according to DeJarnett; however, an experienced emergency room surgeon tells that such a decision could also be made following a cardiac event. No specifics have been provided as to what caused Johnson’s medical incident.

Responding to simple commands (blinking the eyes, sticking out the tongue and gripping someone’s hand) along with recognition of senses (changes to light, touch and sound) are considered a significant step as one improves from previously being unresponsive to a minimally conscious state, according to the Glasgow Coma Scale.

Johnson collapsed on the court less than four minutes into the Saturday game. He was placed on a stretcher and moved off the court as play eventually continued. He was listed in “critical but stable condition” at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and remained there through the weekend.

“We appreciate all the medical personnel who have helped Keyontae,” said athletic director Scott Stricklin on Sunday. “Keyontae received terrific care on site by the FSU staff and at Tallahassee Memorial, which has worked in consultation with UF Health. We’re glad his parents can be by his side, and they all feel the support of Gator Nation.”

Johnson, the SEC Preseason Player of the Year, had just completed an alley-oop dunk ahead of a media timeout. According to the Gators radio broadcast, Johnson was walking to the top of the arc after breaking the huddle when he fell face-first and laid unconscious on the court.

Footage played by ESPN later Saturday during a college football broadcast showed Johnson’s eyes open on the court but closed on the stretcher. He had a bloody scrape on the right side of his chin, presumably from falling on the hardwood.

Play was delayed for a few minutes while the Gators huddled with many players crying. Head coach Mike White led the team in a prayer, and it appears to have been a team decision to continue playing.

White did not speak with the media after the game, citing Johnson’s health as the most important issue at this time. The coach stayed in Tallahassee, as did associate AD for sports health Dave Werner, while the rest of the team returned to Gainesville.

Well wishes for Johnson have been sent from across the college sports spectrum.

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