Spencer Johnson Nearing Return From Injury

PROVO, Utah – BYU basketball has been without their top player the past month. But, with West Coast Conference play about to start, BYU hopes that is changing this week.

Starting guard Spencer Johnson was a full participant in practice on Tuesday. He was wearing a sizeable DonJoy knee brace on the left knee he injured during the Thanksgiving Day loss to Butler at the Battle 4 Atlantis.

#BYU guard Spencer Johnson was a full participant in practice today.

Latest update from Mark Pope.#BYUHoops @kslsports pic.twitter.com/ROXfZIRzIo

— Mitch Harper (@Mitch_Harper) December 27, 2022

The 6-foot-5, 195-pound Johnson missed nine games, with BYU posting a 7-2 record during that stretch. However, they head into the WCC league schedule on a five-game winning streak.

Spencer Johnson participated in all of Tuesday’s practice

But BYU coach Mark Pope would love nothing more than to get one of his top players back into the rotation.

“Spence was a full practice today, and so, we’ll see,” said BYU coach Mark Pope to reporters when asked if Johnson would be available against Pacific.

When Johnson went down with a knee injury, the former Salt Lake Community College standout averaged 11 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. Beyond the stats, he emerged as the top shot-maker for BYU during the early part of the season. He hit a game-winner in the season-opening win over Idaho State.

“He’s not moving like himself yet. But he made it through a practice,” said Pope. “The biggest thing is to see how he feels tomorrow. Then see how he feels Thursday. But he’s knocking on the door. He’s close.”

During the media observation of Tuesday’s practice, Johnson was part of BYU’s second unit. In one practice segment, Johnson got in the passing lane to pick off a pass for a steal. A move that has become a calling card for one of the few veterans on this BYU squad.

BYU basketball is working players back into the rotation

Speaking of veterans, another injured player Trevin Knell, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, took part in a limited role during Tuesday’s practice. Knell was with the scout team, wearing a red uniform.

When both players join, they will be inserted into a BYU squad that has won five straight games, with two wins against in-state rivals (Utah & Weber State) and another against a quad one team in Creighton.

“We certainly want those guys back,” said Pope. “Before Spence was injured, he was our best player offensively and defensively. So we’re excited to get him back. But you know, this team has kind of learned a little bit about how they can function together. So incorporating him back is probably going to be artistic.

“But the interesting thing about Spence, the way he’s always been for me, I throw him out there whether it’s to start the game, four minutes into the game, or 12 minutes into the game, and then he ends up staying out there because he just does his job so well. In that sense, I don’t think I’m going to have to nurse him back in. At least, that hasn’t been my experience with him in the past. It’s kind of like, ‘well, he’s in there, causing havoc defensively and making the right plays offensively. So he’s probably just going to stay in there.’”

BYU vs. Pacific

Date: December 29, 2022

Location: Alex G. Spanos Center

TV: None

Streaming: WCC Network

Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM)

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch and his BYU basketball coverage on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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