NC State's Johnson returns to PNC
For the first time since Dec. 16, N.C. State sophomore guard Markell Johnson was back at PNC Arena with his Wolfpack teammates Thursday night for the team’s game against Clemson.
He didn’t play against the Tigers, however, and N.C. State coach Kevin Keatts isn’t yet sure when the sophomore guard will return to play for the Wolfpack even though his suspension is over.
“I haven’t decided,” Keatts said. “Now, can he play? Yes. But I haven’t decided yet. He hasn’t had a chance to practice with the team. So I want to get him into some type of flow. I’ll take a look at him the next couple of days and if I feel like he’ll be ready to go on Sunday then I’ll play him.”
N.C. State beat No. 19 Clemson, 78-77, as Johnson missed his seventh consecutive game. His next opportunity to return could be at No. 3 Virginia on Sunday nightf.
Johnson has been out serving a suspension after he was charged with felony assault in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. He hasn’t played since the Wolfpack’s 88-69 win over UMKC on Dec. 9.
Earlier Thursday, an Ohio prosecutor dropped the charges against Johnson, who flew from Cleveland to Raleigh, and arrived at PNC Arena around 7:30 p.m. He came out to the court wearing a black warm-up suit while his teammates were taking warm-up shots and stretching.
Johnson and three other Cleveland men were charged with assault following an Oct. 8 incident in Cleveland, his hometown. Once he was charged with a felony and indicted, N.C. State suspended him in accordance with the school’s student-athlete code of conduct. When the charges were dropped, Johnson became eligible for reinstatement.
“I’m excited for Markell that it worked out that way,” Keatts said. “He had maintained to me the whole time that he really didn’t have any involvement. I’m happy for him.”