ST. LOUIS — After leading the Berry College men's basketball team to its first Southern Athletic Association (SAA) title in program history, senior forward Caleb Johnson has been selected as the first U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) Division III National Player of the Week in Berry's history.
The Alabaster, Ala., native averaged 28.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.0 blocks as the Vikings defeated three opponents in three days. Against top-seeded Centre on Friday, Johnson played all 40 minutes and totaled 21 points, three rebounds, two assists, a steal, and a block as Berry defeated the Colonels for the first time in program history, 97-93.
On Saturday, he had 20 points, seven rebounds, an assist, steal and block in a 95-76 win over Birmingham-Southern. Then, in the SAA Championship Game on Sunday, Johnson again played all 40 minutes and set a school record with 45 points (14-of-20 FG, 15-of-16 FT, 2-of-4 3FG) while adding eight rebounds, one assist, two steals, and a block in the title-clinching 88-78 victory over Hendrix.
For the week, he shot 55.3 percent (26-of-47) from the field, 76.3 percent (29-of-38) from the line and 50 percent (5-of-10) from three-point range. For his efforts, Johnson was also named the SAA Tournament MVP.
Berry will enter the postseason 11-17 overall, the only team in the field of 64 with a sub-.500 record. The Vikings are, however, peaking when it counts, winning four straight and averaging better than 93 points per game during the SAA tournament. This is the first time since 1992 that the Vikings have advanced to the national tournament, with their last appearance coming during Berry's NAIA membership.
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was formed in 1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers. With some 900 members worldwide, it is one of the most influential organizations in college basketball. It has selected an All-America team since the 1956-57 season.