GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida has postponed its next three men’s basketball games while forward Keyontae Johnson continues to show “truly encouraging signs of progress,” athletic director Scott Stricklin said Thursday.
Johnson, a former Norview High School star in Norfolk, collapsed on the court during a game at Florida State on Saturday and remains hospitalized at UF Health while undergoing further tests and evaluation. He is alert, moving, talking and even chatting with friends and teammates via FaceTime.
The Gators had been scheduled to host Florida Atlantic on Saturday, Florida A&M on Sunday and James Madison on Tuesday. They will try to make up all three games later this season, but the priority will be to get through Southeastern Conference play.
“This has been an emotionally taxing time for Keyontae’s family, friends and teammates,” Stricklin said. “Our hope is that everyone impacted will take an opportunity to process those emotions and regroup ahead of the start of the new year.”
Florida’s next game is now Dec. 30 at Vanderbilt, the league opener for both teams.
The Gators (3-1) have now postponed or canceled six games already, including against UMass Lowell, Virginia and Oklahoma to open the season.
The latest schedule changes followed Johnson’s harrowing emergency in Tallahassee. The Southeastern Conference’s preseason player of the year crumpled to the floor coming out a timeout and needed medical assistance. He was moved to a stretcher and carried to a waiting ambulance as teammates, coaches, staff, fans and others watched in disbelief.
ESPN declined to show video of the incident. Witnesses said Johnson was standing near midcourt and suddenly fell forward and landed on his face.
He spent two nights at Tallahassee Memorial before being transferred to Gainesville via helicopter with his mother by his side.
Like many of his Florida teammates, Johnson tested positive for COVID-19 during the summer. Although the cause of Johnson’s collapse has not been revealed, 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 SEC mandates strict protocols, including rigorous heart testing, before players can be cleared to return to play following positive COVID-19 tests.