Among the list of powerful and game-changing stories that got pushed to the side in this sports-plentiful month, Raven Johnson’s groundbreaking selection to the Iverson Classic is noteworthy and a watershed moment in the advancement of women’s basketball.
Johnson is the No.1 ranked point guard in high school basketball, and she’s slated to play collegiately at South Carolina for the great Dawn Staley.
Johnson is shaking things up on the court as the first girl to play in a boys basketball All-American Game. While playing at the Iverson Classic in Memphis, Tennessee, she got a stamp of approval from the legend himself.
“These are the best of the best players right here, Iverson said.”
The top point guard in the class of 2021, Raven Johnson, is making history today as the first woman to ever integrate a men’s basketball All-American basketball game. She’s headed to @GamecockWBB to play for @dawnstaley. She got the loudest ovation at the @iversonclassic. pic.twitter.com/djHw1d8auZ
— Damichael Cole (@DamichaelC) May 8, 2021
As stated, Johnson’s top billing among her peers led to her being highly recruited. Standing at 5’9,” Johnson was also named the 2020-21 MaxPreps national player of the year after leading Westlake High School to the state championships in Georgia.
“Where we’re going with women’s basketball, what Kobe was trying to do, kind of continue to keep that legacy going, “Stephen Jackson, former NBA player and coach for Johnson’s Iverson Classic team, said. And by having her is a big step.”
As visibility and support for the WNBA increase, in huge part due to Bryant’s affinity for women in basketball, Iverson Classic organizers wanted to honor the late Hall of Famer and his daughter Gianna’s legacy. They figured the best way to do so would be to invite a top player on the women’s front.
“I was crying I was like, ‘Wow me?” Johnson said, after waking up to a direct message from Iverson asking if she was interested in the classic.
When they said, ‘Yes you,’ I was like ‘Wow, I get to make history and represent for the girls” she recalled.
The scrimmage consisted of 29 of the country’s best basketball players, along with former NBA stars Bonzi Wells and Philadelphia native Rasheed Wallace.
Johnson received a loud ovation when her name was announced during player introductions. Despite making history as the first girl to play in the All-American Classic, Jackson says the 18-year old’s talents are what landed her a spot on the national team.
Diamond Johnson, a Philadelphia native, was the first girl selected to integrate the all-star game in 2020 but it was canceled due to COVID-19.