Florida standout forward Keyontae Johnson, the Southeastern Conference’s preseason player of the year, collapsed coming out of a timeout against rival Florida State and needed emergency medical attention. Johnson was taken off the floor on a stretcher and rushed to Tallahassee Memorial for evaluation.
The Gators said he was in critical but stable condition at the hospital, where he was to remain overnight.
Johnson had just dunked in transition before he fell to the floor as the team broke its huddle. Several Gators were in tears and a couple buried their faces in towels as coach Mike White gathered his team to say a prayer.
The game continued a few minutes later, but the Gators were clearly affected by the scary scene of seeing one of their teammates during a medical emergency.
Like most of his teammates, Johnson tested positive for COVID-19 during the summer. Although the cause of Johnson’s ailment was not immediately known, the coronavirus can lead to myocarditis, a viral infection of the heart muscle. At its most severe, myocarditis can lead to sudden cardiac arrest and has been a documented cause of death for young, otherwise healthy athletes.
The Southeastern Conference mandates strict protocols, including rigorous heart testing, before players can be cleared to return to play following positive COVID-19 tests.
Johnson’s parents were flying in from Virginia to be with their son.
‘We all love him’
“I know you’re fighting bro,” teammate Tre Mann tweeted after the game ended. “God got you.”
Florida (3-0) was ahead 11-3 after Johnson’s dunk. The 20th-ranked Seminoles (2-0) scored the next seven points.
Florida wasn’t the same afterward, getting outscored 80-60 following Johnson’s sudden and disconcerting exit. The 20th-ranked Seminoles won 83-71, extending their winning streak in the series to seven and their winning streak at home to 26.
“Please keep praying for Keyontae and his family,” White posted on Twitter. “We all love him.”
Johnson, a six-foot-five junior from Norfolk, Virginia, averaged a team-high 14 points last season to go along with 7.1 rebounds. He also led the Gators with 38 steals.
He scored five points in four minutes Saturday.
“Those types of things can affect you in some adverse ways,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. “We’re just all hopeful and praying that he’s OK. If it affected our players in an emotional way, I can imagine what the situation was with his teammates.”