'Hardwood Journeys': STAB's Kymora Johnson
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Rarely has a day gone by since Kymora Johnson was three-years-old where she did not find a basketball in her hands.
"Never taken any days off, quite literally. Always being in the gym, always asking for more," Johnson said, "All of this being able to separate myself from everybody else."
A love which can only come from seeing the sport taken away, exactly what happened seven years ago. Johnson was playing on an all-boys travel team from Charlottesville at a South Carolina tournament, only the tournament officials disqualified the team because Johnson was a girl.
"Being kicked out of the tournament was a heart break to me, I was like nine, ten," Johnson remembers, "I got kicked out of a tournament all because I was a girl."
The story of the Charlottesville Cavaliers made national news, led to a trip to Madison Square Garden to play in front of the New York Liberty and helped Johnson become the player she is today.
"Now I just use it as every time I step onto the court I'm grateful to be able to play, actually be able to play," Johnson said.
Mo Johnson has done more than play.
Since starting for St. Anne's-Belfield in eighth grade, Johnson has scored more than 1,000 points in just three seasons after losing her sophomore year to COVID, led the Saints to multiple LIS titles and VISAA Division I title games and became the second Gatorade State Player of the Year from Central Virginia. She has also gathered plenty of college offers from UVA to North Carolina to Tennessee and dozens of others.
"I was sitting in the car with my mom last night and she turns and looks at me, 'how are you going to make a decision, like this is crazy," Johnson said, "And I'm like 'yeah mom, I know' there's a lot of options to weigh."
Despite the accolades and ranking No. 30 on ESPN's HoopGurlz Top 100 players in the country, the highest for a Central Virginia player since William Monroe's Sam Brunelle, Mo carries the same chip with her.
"Everyone is always like rankings are just a number, that's true, rankings are just a number, but it's also motivation at the same time," Johnson said, "Say you're 20th, you've got 19 people they say are better than you, when you step on the court you got to show and prove you're better than 19 other people."
Johnson said there are numerous factors in her ultimate college choice such as NIL, location and conference. The months ahead hold official visits and an expected decision date in the fall, but also plenty of moments on the court.
"It's almost like I've got it all above my head and I'm just looking up at it to go grab it," Johnson said, "So every day is a chance to get better, every game an opportunity."