Rider guard garnering national attention
LOIS ELFMAN | 1/9/2020, 6:08 p.m.
Guard Stella Johnson has her eye on the prize—a MAAC championship and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. “Getting that MAAC ring is one thing I’ve been chasing since I stepped on campus,” said Johnson, a senior at Rider University in New Jersey. “That’s the 2020 goal.”
The Broncs are currently 9–2, 2–0 in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play, and Johnson is averaging 28 points per game, which places her atop Division I women’s basketball with the most points per game. Johnson said her individual accomplishments would mean nothing if her team wasn’t winning.
“It’s not just me scoring,” said Johnson, a New Jersey native. “If I don’t have a good day, Amari [Johnson] or Amanda [Mobley] are coming in. Everyone does their part—the post players, the guards, the point guards that come off the bench. The thing that’s making us really good is that everyone is playing their role.”
To be ready for this season, Johnson spent the summer at Rider working on her game with the coaching staff. When she saw she was topping a D I statistical category, she thought it was cool. As she was only paying attention to team wins, it came as a surprise when someone sent her a link. It’s inspiration to work even harder.
“You can’t relax and step off the gas,” said Johnson, who wasn’t highly recruited coming out of high school. While she had some interest, Rider was the only solid D I offer, so she went with it.
Her goal after college is to play professionally. “If I have a good season, hopefully that will come from it,” she said. Growing up, she admired Maya Moore, Kawhi Leonard and coach Gregg Popovich. Johnson is minoring in French, so she’s ready to play in France should the opportunity arise. Her major is sports media.
Winter break has been busy for the Broncs with four games in 10 days. Rider will be deep into conference play by the time classes resume in late January. Johnson’s goal during winter break is training and getting shots up in practice. Rather than going home for New Year’s Eve, her parents, who come to all home games and most away games, drove to campus to take her out to dinner so she’d be fresh for practice in the morning.
“My main goal is to keep my head in the game and keep working on skills,” said Johnson.