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ETBU’s Nolan Johnson brings the ball up the court.

Basketball has been a large part for the majority of Nolan Johnson’s life and the ETBU guard said the game has taught him some valuable life lessons.

“I’ve played since I was about 4 or 5,” he said. “I’ve been loving this game since I was young. I was always playing with older guys. I think I was in first grade, second grade, playing with guys who were in fourth and fifth grade. I’ve always found a way to play the game that I’ve always had a love for since I was young.”

The 2016 Hallsville grad found a way to continue to play in college.

“My sophomore year (at Hallsville High School) was our first year with coach (Rusty) Walker,” Johnson added. “He was a really good coach. He’s coached a lot of guys who played in college and when he realized, ‘Hey man, you have really good skill and you might have a chance to play college ball,’ that’s when it kicked in and I got really serious about it (playing college basketball).”

Johnson is now a junior and is in his first year playing with the Tigers’ varsity squad.

“He’s gone from a scorer with the developmental team to a distributor and facilitator with varsity program,” ETBU head coach Brandon Curran said. “He’s done great this year of stepping up into a really big role for us as our backup point guard when Landon went down with a season-ending injury. I’m just really proud of him for his focus and concentration and his commitment to the team, these guys and how he’s worked at it every day and learn every day. He’s done a great job.”

Throughout the process of landing with the varsity squad and even before then, Johnson said basketball has taught him the importance of discipline.

“Every coach I’ve had growing up from when I was young, then in high school and even now, the thing I learned was being disciplined, learning that off the court, life goes on even after basketball. Just be disciplined and focused throughout life.

“Basketball has helped me with a lot,” Johnson added. “Personally, you might be dealing with something off the court. It might be something in school. Basketball, for me is a way of setting my mind free. Every time I’m on the court, I forget about those problems off the court.”

Johnson and his Tigers will be home today when they play host to University of the Ozarks and then Saturday whey host the UT-Tyler Patriots.

“I love our crowds,” Johnson said. “Our fans come out here every home game to support us and we feed off that. Every home game we’ve had this year has been rocking and you can see it even in our play, we’re really good at home. We feed off the crowd and we love it. My family is here almost every home game so they’re proud of the crowd that’s being loud too.”

“We just want to put confident into our preparation, in our work ethic and our ability to execute and continue to improve in those areas and I think the results will take care of themselves,” Curran said.

Tonight’s game is slated for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff and Saturday’s is slated for 3 p.m.