SLINGER — You could feel the buildup and energy in the gym when Jalen Johnson made his return to the Nicolet basketball team Friday night in Slinger.
The senior forward has committed to play at Duke next season and is among the nation’s top players.
He had transferred IMG Academy in Florida, but never played in a game there. Johnson returned to school at Nicolet over the winter break, and was granted eligibility to return to the basketball court before Friday’s game.
According to WIAA Deputy Director Wade Labecki, since Johnson came back in the same school year and never played at IMG, his eligibility never actually left Nicolet.
“I’m happy for him,” said Nicolet Head Coach Allan Hanson. “He’s a great kid. He’s a great teammate. He’s obviously a great basketball player. He’s going to fit in with us. He’s happy to be able to play basketball and we’re excited to have him.”
With Johnson back on the team, the Knights are expected to be among the favorites to defend their Division 2 state title. They are tied with Whitefish Bay atop the North Shore Conference with an 11-2 record.
Johnson appeared rusty, but scored 14 points in Nicolet’s 54-43 victory game Friday night.