BELTON, Texas Look on the sideline of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor women's basketball team and you will see a very familiar face to the Baylor Lady Bears basketball program. Former Lady Bears point guard Niya Johnson has traded in her sneakers for a clipboard, becoming an assistant coach for the Cru a season ago.
“Just that leadership I had being a point guard,” said Johnson. “Looking out for my teammates. I always want to do something like that and give back my knowledge for the game.”
Giving back is something that Johnson has always been great at doing. The four time All Big 12 guard is the record holder in assists not only for Baylor but for the entire Big 12. Think of her as the John Stockton or Chris Paul of women’s college basketball. But after only playing a year of professional basketball in Switzerland, Johnson is now dropping knowledge like she used to drop dimes.
“In the games she focuses on telling me when to keep my dribble alive when to pass the ball, smart decisions since she was like the leader in assists at her college at Baylor,” said UMHB Junior Guard, Alicia Blackwell. “So I look to her a lot. She helps me every day.”
In year two of Johnson’s coaching career head coach Mark Morefield has seen Johnson grow in the way she communicates with the players. Often times still being able to relate while giving instruction.
“Shes still so young and not that far removed from playing that she can share quite a few experiences and really kind of resonate with those players,” said Morefield.
However, just because she now is passing on her knowledge to a new crop of basketball talent doesn’t mean she doesn’t sometimes get the itch to lace ‘em up again.
“Every day,” Johnson exclaimed. “Every day from practice to games, I’m like ‘gosh can I be out there please’, but I know it's time for me to hang up my shoes and come to this coaching side. Which I don’t have any regret.”