Senior Brooke Johnson wrapped up her UNLV basketball career in fine fashion, with a share of the Mountain West championship (in a tie with Boise State), and a Defensive Player of the Year award in the Mountain West to boot. It caps off a career that saw her notch 1,474 points, 247 steals and 380 assists. She plans to explore professional basketball options overseas after graduation, with an eye on eventually going back to school for career in animal research or as an exotic veterinarian. But really, she wants to swim with the sharks — no cage required.
When the final buzzer rang in UNLV’s 68-58 win over Utah State to cement a share of a conference title for the first time in 27 years, what was the first thought that went through your head?
At least I did good my senior night. I was not expecting the celebration that happened after. I was just like ‘Oh, we won, maybe they don't make a big deal about it.’ Since I've had my experience here, it's been a lot of history in the making, and I'm proud to be a part of that.
What’s the first thing you look for to use to try to break down the girl you’re defending?
A lot of it comes from paying attention to the scouting reports. I’ll look over what that player does. I try to keep them under their average. I learn what they do the best, what they don't do, what they're bad at. So I kind of use that to my advantage, to try to know them better than they know themselves.
What’s the hardest you ever laughed with the team?
On a trip back to Spokane, our flight left before we got to the airport, so we had to drive to Seattle and try to make this flight. A teammate tore a meniscus, so we had one teammate carrying her through the airport, and I was holding her bags. We're all running in bright red suits, and I tripped over my shoe right before we hit the gate and just face-planted on the floor with three minutes to spare, in front of everybody. No one stopped to help me because we were all worried about getting on the plane. It was the most embarrassing thing but I didn't feel embarrassed because I was just laughing.
What’s the one sport you always wanted to compete in, but never have?
I love gymnastics. I always wanted to do backflips. I've got the round off down. I can do a back handspring, but I don't trust myself with my body these days. Gymnastics is without a doubt one of the toughest and hardest body movements. Sometimes I wish I was a little smaller so I might have had a chance at it.
What’s more satisfying: a steal or a block?
Steal, for sure. A steal just kind of breaks the other team's spirit, like,”‘Damn, I just turned the ball over to them.” Or doing it when you're in motion, trying to get that fast break layup — it's a little adrenalin boost. It puts a little pressure on you like, “Do not miss this wide-open layup in front of everybody.” I like the pressure.
What’s the first DVD you ever bought?
Beauty Shop, and it's probably one of my favorite movies. I could probably quote that whole movie.
What on-court skill of yours is underrated?
I think my court vision and ability to set up other teammates and share the ball with them is underrated. It might not always be noticed, because obviously if the person finishes, they're going to get the recognition. But I've always been someone who sees everybody on the floor.
What’s the second-best award you’ve received after Defensive Player of the Year?
I was very honored to be an all-conference player this year as well. But last year in the Mountain West tournament I was one of only five recognized as one of the all-tournament team. That's something I was really thankful for as well.
What’s the one toy you always wanted as a kid but never got?
It wasn't necessarily a toy, but it was moreso an animal. I always wanted snakes or any kind of reptile. My parents did not like them at all, so I was always trying to get some type of reptile or animal.