Cyclone great Seanna Johnson’s career nears the finish line


Jack MacDonald/Iowa State Daily

Seanna Johnson and family look up towards the video board as a tribute from her plays for the Cyclone fans. 

Aaron Marner

When the Big 12 women’s basketball awards were announced on March 1, there was a notable omission from the All-Big 12 First Team. 

Iowa State senior Seanna Johnson, who was named to the first team a year ago and was on the preseason first team heading into this season, was absent from the list.

Fifteen players made the First and Second teams. Johnson — who finished fourth in the Big 12 in scoring at 15.6 points per game and seventh in rebounds at 8.1 per game — was not one of those 15 players.

Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said he was “disappointed,” and that “[Johnson’s] numbers speak for themselves.” Johnson’s teammate Bridget Carleton called it “shocking.”

“Obviously Seanna’s a huge part of our team,” Carleton said. “She’s a go-to player for us and she draws a lot of defense to her. She’s a great player and a great person.”

Teammate Jadda Buckley, who entered Iowa State in 2013 alongside Johnson, echoed that sentiment.

“She’s had an amazing career, too,” Buckley said. “Not just at Iowa State but in the conference overall.

“I know that will just motivate her to even go off in the tournament and the NCAAs.”

For Johnson, however, it was nothing new.

“It is what it is,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s whole Iowa State career has been that way. As a sophomore, Johnson started every game for an Iowa State team that qualified for the NCAA Tournament as a 10-seed. She led the Cyclones — and the Big 12 — in rebounding. Johnson also scored the game-winning shot with under 30 seconds remaining to knock off No. 3 Texas.

Still, Johnson was left off the All-Big 12 First and Second teams. 

With her college career coming to an end, Johnson couldn’t care less about awards she does or doesn’t receive.

In typical Johnson fashion, her biggest worry after being left off the All-Big 12 teams last week was how she could be helping Iowa State win more.

“Whatever I have to do to help my team win, I’m gonna go do,” Johnson said. “If that’s going out there and just rebounding more, that’s what I’ll do.”

Effort and teamwork have always been the hallmarks for Johnson. Earlier this season, she became one of three Cyclones to reach the 1,000-rebound mark. That feat is especially remarkable considering Johnson stands at just 5 foot 10.

But that’s just who Johnson is. When her team has needed a rebound, Johnson has been there for the last four years to grab every loose ball.

“For me, it’s not about the points or anything,” Johnson said. “It’s more of doing the little things.

“Like I’ve always said, rebounding has always been key. That takes no talent at all, it takes effort. I just went out there and whatever I had to do to help my team win, I would do it.”

Johnson made sure to single out Fennelly as a huge factor in her growth as a player and person during her college career.

“[Coach Fennelly has] meant a lot,” Johnson said. “For him to even give me the opportunity to play here in front of one of the best fan bases in the country, it’s meant a lot.

“As a freshman he started me, and that meant a lot because he actually trusted me to be a part of something bigger than myself. I’ve learned a lot from him, and he’s taught me not only how to be a better player but a better person as well.”

Johnson has never come off the bench for Iowa State. In every single game of her 120-game career, Johnson has started. Only Megan Taylor, who started every one of her 133 career games at Iowa State, has matched that feat.

“I never really realized I’ve started every game,” Johnson said. “But I think it’s helped me grow as a person.”

Johnson pointed out the ups and downs over the last four years. The only two games she has missed as a Cyclone came during her junior year when her dad had a stroke and Johnson left to be with her family.

Basically, for the last four years, Johnson has played a prominent role in every Iowa State game. She’s been the most consistent factor for the Cyclones as injuries, transfers and rollercoaster seasons have surrounded the team.

In her final game at Hilton Coliseum, Johnson finished with a terrific performance, scoring 18 points and grabbing 14 boards in a win.

“It’s kind of like what we’ve watched a lot with Seanna,” Fennelly said after the game. “A lot of times when you’re a senior, you don’t have that moment. … It’s nice to see her finish the way she’s done so many times. She played great.

“It was a great way for her to finish an amazing career and a great way for our fans to see her play Seanna Johnson basketball the last game.”

When her career at Iowa State is all said and done, there’s a good chance Johnson’s No. 12 jersey will be hanging from the rafters at Hilton Coliseum. By the time she leaves campus, Johnson will most likely rank seventh in school history in career points (she is 15 points shy of seventh place right now) and third in rebounds.

“In five to 10 years, I just want people to realize and understand that it’s always been about my teammates and my coaches and fans,” Johnson said. “They’ve gotten me to the point I’m at right now.”