"When I was three, my daddy brought me every ball that he had, and I picked up this one,” Jalyn Johnson said. “It's taken me places, so I kept up with it."
Most people may know Jayln Johnson as a McNeese Cowgirl or a Jennings lady bulldog, but nowadays she's known as the only American on HER NEW team. Johnson has been playing professional basketball overseas for two years and this past season she helped lead CBAT to a league championship— vaulting her to celebrity status.
"Even in the mall everyone will come up to me and ask if you are the American and I say yes, and they say can we have a picture and I say sure," Johnson said.
But the transition for her hasn't been easy.
"My first year, I didn't know anything my first year I didn't know anything they were saying. They said this is something I should have learned in my first week of Spanish. I said I took Spanish in the 9th grade. That was like six years ago,” Johnson added. “Everybody laughs at me. This year, I can understand everything they are saying, I just can't respond. I know the words, but I can't put it in a sentence for them."
Johnson signed with CBAT for her second pro season -- which at the time was a division three professional team. But with Johnson's help, it's now D-2.
"In college, I was a 1 guard. All I had to do was get on the court and assist. I took it to the goal when I had to, shoot when I had to,” Johnson said. “Professionally, more Americans are scorers and so I had to average 15-20 points a game. I can do it, but I wasn't used to it. To transition to that was hard, I felt like I had it, but it was a lot."
Johnson gives a lot of credit to the people she's met along the way.
"I feel like without being at McNeese and without my coaches and teammates that I had,” Johnson said. “I don't think I would have made it. But as you grow and mature, everything becomes easy sooner or later."
And of course, her hometown, Jennings.
"Everybody follows me on Facebook and watches the games on YouTube,” Johnson said. “They tell me how good I've been doing. The whole city is behind me and I love it. I appreciate it."
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