March 19, 2009
Don Johnson, an All-SEC forward, who played on the Tennessee basketball team for Ray Mears from 1969-71, passed away suddenly in Knoxville, Tenn., on Wednesday.
Johnson, a native of Benson, Ill., captured All-SEC honors in 1971 after averaging 18.8 points per game and 10.4 rebounds while leading UT to a 21-7 record and a second-place finish in the SEC at 13-5.
The six-foot-five forward played on two second-place SEC teams during his career. In 1969, the Vols also finished second in the SEC with a 13-5 record. The Big Orange advanced to the NIT both seasons. During that time, the NCAA only invited the conference champion to play in the season-ending NCAA tournament.
Johnson finished with 1,196 points after averaging 14.8 points in 81 career games. His 749 rebounds rank 10th on UT's career rebounding chart, and his rebounding average of 9.2 is sixth-highest in Volunteer history.
Johnson was drafted in the NBA and ABA drafts following his senior season. The Baltimore Bullets drafted him in the fifth round in the NBA draft, and the Memphis Tams selected him in the 16th round in the ABA Draft.
Johnson was very active in the Knoxville community following the completion of his playing career. He worked as a consultant in the Knoxville area and was a member of the Big Orange Tipoff Club. Johnson, who was nominated for Tennessee's All-Century Team, recently joined many of his former teammates at the Lettermen's Reunion, Feb. 13 to celebrate a century of Tennessee basketball.