Benton Harbor’s Carlos ‘Scooby’ Johnson named BCAM’s Hal Schram Mr. Basketball winner for 2020
SOUTHFIELD — The first two times his phone rang, showing his coach’s number, Benton Harbor senior Carlos “Scooby” Johnson let it go to voicemail.
The third time Corey Sterling called, telling Johnson to pick up, he finally did.
That’s when the coach was finally able to give the Butler-bound forward the news he’d been planning to break to him since grade school: Johnson had just been named the third Mr. Basketball from Benton Harbor.
“At first, I didn’t answer the phone, the first two times, because I thought he wanted me to come to the gym, and I was cleaning up right now, so I was like ‘Nah, I’m not finna get out.’ So he called me back, and told me to answer. He was like, ‘I got some news for you.’ I was like, ‘OK, what’s up?’ He said, ‘Well, you got one of your goals. It’s Mr. Basketball.’ I was kind of speechless for a minute,” Johnson recalled Monday, when he was presented with the trophy in a ceremony at the STATE CHAMPS! Network offices in Southfield. “I was kind of like, ‘Wow.’ You only get one opportunity to win, so I was just blessed with the opportunity to win. … I was just being humble, and letting God take his parts of it. If it was meant for me to win …”
Johnson edged out a talented field of finalists to become the winner of the 40th annual Hal Schram Mr. Basketball award, given out by its joint sponsors, the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan and the United Dairy Association of Michigan.
[To watch the live-stream of the ceremony, CLICK HERE]
He finished with 2,942 points (points awarded on a 5-3-1 basis), less than 200 points ahead of Flint Beecher’s Jalen Terry (2,760). Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Lorne Bowman had 2,312, Clarkston’s Matt Nicholson 1,678 and Detroit Cass Tech’s Tyson Acuff 1,497.
“Congratulations my man! Keep working! This is only thee beginning for you,” Bowman tweeted at Johnson afterward.
Johnson is the first Benton Harbor player to win the award since 2005, and the third overall, joining Anthony “Pig” Miller (1990) and Wilson Chandler (2005). He’s also the first Butler signee to win the award.
“A lot of people that came from the area didn’t get a chance to win Mr. Basketball, so I’m just honored and blessed to be one of the three names,” Johnson admitted. “Feels good. I know a lot of friends and family at home are excited right now. I told them I had some news, but they thought it was the Burger King award I’d won last week. So they just got it right now.”
His coach — who has called Johnson underrated all along — agreed on the magnitude.
“It’s big for the city, big for the community. Benton Harbor’s a basketball city. Everybody back home is very excited, just like when we won a state championship. Carlos is representing Benton Harbor, representing the west side of the state,” Sterling said.
“Pig Miller and Wilson Chandler, Carlos looked up to those guys, and they were always mentoring him, giving him advice. I just think it’s great for Benton Harbor to have three Mr. Basketballs. Ahead of us is Detroit with five throughout the city, but that just shows, again, that Benton Harbor is a powerhouse.”
Johnson averaged 25 points, 11 rebounds, six blocks and three steals this season, and helped the Tigers to the 2018 Class B state title, beating Grand Rapids Catholic Central, 65-64 in overtime, on Johnson’s game-winning 3-pointer with 14 seconds remaining.
That early exposure probably helped some coaches cement Johnson’s resume in their minds.
“I think it helped a lot. Maybe there were some coaches that didn’t get that first year to see me in high school, then the next year, then another year … they were like, ‘All right, I got a good look at him, now,’” Johnson said.
Sterling has had his eye on the forward for much, much longer, though. He had an inkling this day was coming, even before Johnson hit middle school, let alone high school.
“I would say when he was in fourth grade. I’ve had my eye on Scooby since he was in fourth grade. He played Jump Start basketball, and he just dominated every time, even when he played us. So I had to make sure he stayed with us, and became a student at Benton Harbor High School. When he came, he took care of business, and took us to the final four his freshman year, as a sophomore, he won a state championship for us. If we get a chance to resume this year, I think he’ll win another state championship for us,” Sterling said.
“He had a great freshman year, but he stayed in the gym every day. He didn’t take time off. He was always a student of the game, watched a lot of film. One thing he improved the most at is his perimeter game, his 15-foot shot, his 3-point game.
“Then, senior year, he just filled out by hitting the weights hard, getting that NBA-ready body.”
Johnson doesn’t necessarily model himself after anyone currently playing in the NBA, though.
“I kind of like old-school basketball, kind of like Michael Jordan or Kareem Abul-Jabbar,” the senior said, admitting he has a sky hook he dusts off every once in a while.
He’d like to finish off his senior season with a different trophy, in addition to the one he collected Monday, though.
“Yeah, I’m still holding out hope. Hopefully I get to finish my journey off,” Johnson said. “High school ending was kind of tough for me, but I just put it in God’s hands.”
The Mr. Basketball winners:
2020 — Carlos “Scooby” Johnson, Benton Harbor (Butler)
2019 — Romeo Weems, New Haven (DePaul)
2018 — Foster Loyer, Clarkston (Michigan State)
2017 — Isaiah Livers, Kalamazoo Central (Michigan)
2016 — Cassius Winston, University of Detroit Jesuit (Michigan State)
2015 — Deyonta Davis, Muskegon (Michigan State)
2014 — Deshaun Thrower, Muskegon (Stony Brook/Ferris State)
2013 — Monté Morris, Flint Beecher (Iowa State)
2012 — Matt Costello, Bay City Western (Michigan State)
2011 — Dwaun Anderson, Suttons Bay (Wagner)
2010 — Keith Appling, Detroit Pershing (Michigan State)
2009 — Derrick Nix, Detroit Pershing (Michigan State)
2008 — Brad Redford, Frankenmuth (Xavier )
2007 — Manny Harris, Detroit Redford (Michigan)
2006 — David Kool, Grand Rapids South Christian (Western Michigan)
2005 — Wilson Chandler, Benton Harbor (DePaul)
2004 — Drew Neitzel, Wyoming Park (Michigan State)
2003 — Dion Harris, Detroit Redford(Michigan)
2002 — Paul Davis, Rochester (Michigan State)
2001 — Kelvin Torbert, Flint Northwestern (Michigan State)
2000 — Marcus Taylor, Lansing Waverly (Michigan State)
1999 — Jason Richardson, Saginaw Arthur Hill (Michigan State)
1998 — Dane Fife, Clarkston (Indiana)
1997 — Shane Battier, Detroit Country Day (Duke)
1996 — Winfred Walton, Detroit Pershing (Fresno State)
1995 — Robert Traylor, Detroit Murray-Wright (Michigan)
1994 — Willie Mitchell, Detroit Pershing (Michigan/UAB)
1993 — Jon Garavaglia, Southgate Aquinas (Michigan State)
1992 — Kenyon Murray, Battle Creek Central (Iowa)
1991 — Chris Webber, Detroit Country Day (Michigan)
1990 — Anthony Miller, Benton Harbor (Michigan State)
1989 — Michael Talley, Detroit Cooley (Michigan)
1988 — Matt Steigenga, Grand Rapids South Christian (Michigan State)
1987 — Mark Macon, Saginaw Buena Vista (Temple)
1986 — Terry Mills, Romulus (Michigan)
1985 — Glen Rice, Flint Northwestern (Michigan)
1984 — Demetreus Gore, Detroit Chadsey (Pittsburgh)
1983 — Antoine Joubert, Detroit Southwestern (Michigan)
198 — Robert Henderson, Lansing Eastern (Michigan)
1981 — Sam Vincent, Lansing Eastern (Michigan State)