Florida Gators' Keyontae Johnson transferred to UF Health, 'following simple commands'
Florida men’s basketball forward Keyontae Johnson is “following simple commands and undergoing further tests”, according to UF spokesman Denver Parler, although Johnson remains in critical but stable condition.
Earlier Monday, Johnson was moved from Tallahassee to Gainesville by helicopter to University of Florida’s Shands Hospital, where he’s currently under evaluation.
"He continues in critical but stable condition, is following simple commands and undergoing further tests," Parler said.
Johnson, 21, collapsed during the first half of Florida’s contest at Florida State and needed to be removed from the court on a stretcher. He was unresponsive before being taken to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, where Johnson was placed in a medically induced coma, Johnson’s grandfather, Larry DeJarnett, confirmed in a phone call with USA Today.
"They’re just not sure," DeJarnett told USA TODAY Sports. "He may have had activity in the brain, so they induced the coma. They put him on medication to keep him sedated."
It's unclear if Johnson's condition is connected to COVID-19, or if he had previously tested positive. Florida had to pause team activities last month because of positive COVID-19 tests, and coach Mike White said the team also had previous issues, but details were not released because of privacy laws.
DeJarnett told USA TODAY Sports he did not know whether Johnson ever suffered from the virus.
"I know that there was some of the times when some of the team was quarantined, yes,” DeJarnett said. “I don’t know if he was one of them or not.”
The Southeastern Conference mandates strict protocols, including rigorous heart testing, before players can be cleared to return to play following positive COVID-19 tests.
The Gators announced that Johnson, the Southeastern Conference's preseason player of the year, was in critical and stable condition less than an hour after his ordeal. The American Hospital Association defines patients in critical but stable condition as having “vital signs that are unstable and not within normal limits. Patient may be unconscious. Indicators are unfavorable.”
Florida sent one of its jets to Norfolk, Virginia, to get Johnson's parents Saturday and take them to Tallahassee to be with their son. White, who let his players decide whether to continue playing Saturday, also stayed with Johnson along with head athletic trainer Dave Werner.
Keyontae Johnson's Team Impact
Johnson is the preseason SEC Player of the Year. As a sophomore, Johnson led the team in points per game (14) and steals (38) and was All-SEC
BORN: Norfolk, Virginia
HEIGHT/WEIGHT: 6-foot-5, 229 pounds
HIGH SCHOOL: Oak Hill Academy
OTHER ACCOLADES: Johnson received recognition on the 2019-20 All-SEC teams (Coaches First Team, AP Second Team) to cap off his second collegiate season after leading the Gators in points 15 times, as well grabbing the most rebounds in 13 contests.
USA Today’s Josh Peter and Tom Schad contributed to this report.