Bryson Johnson is about to get caught up in the madness – March Madness that is.
Johnson is a sophomore with the Bucknell University Bison who are set to begin their fifth NCAA Division 1 Basketball Championship appearance today when they meet the West Region’s No. 3 seed University of Connecticut.
The championship is a single elimination tournament held each spring in the United States, featuring the top 68 college basketball teams in the country.
While he may be far away from his hometown of Pictou, Johnson’s mother Peggy MacLean says you can be sure he’ll be doing his best to represent the region.
Johnson proudly boasts Canadian gear wherever he goes and insists that people pronounce Pictou right.
You can be sure that there will be people asking where he’s from too.
From the time the 6’1” 186 pound guard walked on the court at Bucknell he’s been drawing plenty of attention. He is the second leading scorer on his team and helped his team advance to the NCAA tournament by winning the Patriot League title this past weekend. He was chosen as second team all-star for his conference, averaging close to 12 points per game. He is also one of the top three-point shooters in the entire NCAA.
“He's been around a 47 per cent three-point shooter which is very impressive by any standard,” says MacLean. “He's maintained that percentage all year.”
But perhaps that’s to be expected considering the family he was born into.
MacLean was a basketball player herself and played for the Dalhousie Tigers before coaching locally at West Pictou and Northumberland.
His brother Ben plays for Lakehead University and just wrapped up playing in Halifax at the CIS Final 8 championships.
His other bother Nathan also played college basketball and is now assistant coach of the St. Francis Xavier University women’s team.
“We've always loved basketball,” says MacLean. “I think it's kind of been what we do.”
She isn’t going to miss the chance of seeing her son in the limelight. She and Ben left to go watch the tournament West Division Games in Washington, DC this week.
“It'll be great,” she says. “I'm going to scream and cheer for the Bisons.”
Playing in the NCAA Division 1 Championship for young basketball players is the equivalent of playing in the NHL for hockey players and Bryson is no exception, says MacLean. With talent and determination, he’s been able to make that dream reality.
“He works hard and he's got coaches that believe in him,” she said.
She hopes that he and his teammates can make a long run.
While as the No. 13 seed in their division, they are definitely considered underdogs; she believes they have the makings of a Cinderella team.
“If you see his team play, they have a really nice balance,” she says. “They have great coaching too. If you try to shut down one player on that team someone else steps up.”
Their game time today is 9:15 ADT.