The number zero is not typically known for greatness, but Gibson Johnson is changing that as a member of the Salt Lake Community College men’s basketball team.
The starting forward has put up solid numbers over the past two years since joining SLCC as a freshman. Johnson is averaging 13 points and 7.4 rebounds per game this season for the 16th-ranked Bruins.
“I was a walk-on at the University of Utah, I was recruited by [one of the coaches] there, and when he transferred to SLCC I transferred with him,” Johnson says.
For many athletes, the number on their jersey has great meaning. But Johnson received his with little fanfare.
“When I came here, I didn’t want to step on any toes or push any buttons, because I just happened to be playing basketball,” he explains. “So [zero] is the number I was given.”
Johnson now wears the number proudly after finding inspiration from an NBA star who wore it well.
“I thought it was a lame number, but I grew to like it,” he says. “In the NBA, there is this guy, Gilbert Arenas, he chose the number zero. He believed that was how many people believed he should be in the NBA. He went on to become an All-Star.”
Johnson, who is majoring in Business Administration, believes the comparison is accurate.
“It’s kind of the same situation,” he says. “I have the same number zero, and nobody thought I would be playing college basketball, but here I am!”
SLCC Athletics director of media relations Rachel Rowan says the number is now synonymous with Johnson.
“It’s almost like a beacon,” she explains. “[Fans] see the zero, and everyone associates Gibson Johnson with that number.”
As productive as Gibson has been on the court, he appreciates the depth of talent on the Bruin roster.
“Everyone needs to sit on the bench, especially me,” Johnson says with a laugh. “I have been a starter for a while, which has been really good. But when you can’t go any longer, we have a really good team, so it’s not that big of a drop off when you take any person out of a game.”
Johnson has a few schools that are interested in him after he graduates this year.
“It’s a lot of fun getting to know the other coaches,” he says. Some of the colleges he has considered include the University of San Diego, the University of Seattle, and UC Santa Barbara.
The final date to make his decision will be April 14. But until then, Johnson and the rest of the Bruins will make a push for the Scenic West championship and a berth in the NJCAA tournament.