Similarities run deep for Johnson and Scott

Freshman Guard Rae Johnson dribbles around players during the Iowa State vs OSU basketball game Feb. 10 in Hilton Coliseum.The cyclones were narrowly defeated by the Cowgirls 73-81

Spencer Suckow

There’s a lot in common between Rae Johnson and Kristin Scott.

The two are true sophomores from the class of 2017, who appeared in more than 30 games last year and started four games apiece for the Cyclones as freshmen. They’re also from the state of Minnesota, where each set multiple records for their respective high schools on the way to being named All-State selections and Miss Basketball finalists.

They even committed to Iowa State in the same week, five days apart in February 2015. They knew nothing of each other before that, as they went to schools located roughly two hours apart with significant differences in size. However, once they went on a visit together, they made it a point to visit campus together from then on.

Over time, they discovered they had more in common, and a bond formed shortly after that.

“I’d say personality — we have the same humor and everything,” Johnson said. “So we get along that way.

“We’re best friends. We have a lot of similarities. We clicked right away.”

Now going into this season, both have another added similarity: the two are trying to get more playing time in what coach Bill Fennelly described as a fluid starting lineup.

Both will readily admit they had their share of struggles last season when it came to adjusting to life as a Division I basketball player. Specifically, both mentioned the pace of play in the Big 12 was the hardest adjustment to make and adapting to the speed and physicality of major conference basketball led to, at times, roller coaster-like freshman years.

Now the two have gotten a taste of what it will take to succeed, however, both are coming into 2018 with an increased level of confidence. That confidence is shared by their coach, who believes now that the two are fully adjusted to college life, they can better focus on improving their craft.

“Every coach will talk about that the biggest step that you want from your players is how they move from their freshman year to their sophomore year,” Fennelly said. “Rae and Kristin, it’s the same thing. I think they had good offseason, and Rae and Kristin are going to have a big part in what this team is about.”

Fennelly did admit the path to increased playing time now and in the near future is probably a little easier for Scott, due primarily to her size at 6-foot-3 and the fact fellow post players Meredith Burkhall and Ines Nezerwa will be graduating after this season.

With that being said, Fennelly also praised Johnson’s versatility at guard, and said she’ll have the advantage right away for early playing time because the year she has under her belt.

On top of that, Fennelly mentioned at another point during his press conference as many as 12 players have seen significant reps in practice thus far, leaving plenty of room for both to leave an impression.

In terms of how they plan to leave impressions, both emphasized they wanted to increase their shooting percentages first and foremost. Johnson struggled in particular last year, shooting just over 27 percent from the field, but says she feels she can make up for it in other areas while she works to improve her shot.

“I can bring a lot of defense to the team,” Johnson said. “I think that’s the best possible way I can get playing time.”

Scott was a bit better from the floor, shooting at a 37 percent clip overall, but she struggled significantly from beyond the arc by shooting under 15 percent. That’s a problem for someone who plays as a stretch-post player, and Scott says that being more reliable, both from the outside and as an overall player, will be her biggest emphasis.

“I just need to have a more consistent game this year,” Scott said. “I can’t be on and off.”

From how they got here, to where they are now, the similarities run deep for Johnson and Scott. And in an ideal scenario for the Cyclones, the hard work both are putting in will pay similarly large dividends this season and beyond.