Alex Johnson defines the line between elation and relief as having faith. That’s how he describes his emotions after NC State’s name popped up on television in the NCAA’s Midwest region as an 11-seed. “It was a joy because nobody knew,” he says. “I saw coach talking with some people and his face was like, ‘I guess we didn’t get in.’ A lot of guys were like, ‘We didn’t make it this year.’ But I had faith.”
And it was because of that faith and joy that Johnson became a YouTube sensation with his celebratory dance. Add to that the controversial no-call in the NC State-UNC game in the ACC tournament’s semifinals, and Johnson, whom we profiled in our Winter 2011 issue of NC State magazine, has become perhaps the most watched NC State player on the team. But he says he plans to keep a low profile until the Wolfpack takes care of its final bit of business. “I’ve told everybody I’m not dancing until we get a national championship,” he says.
Johnson is a graduate student who transferred from the University of California at Bakersfield. He averaged 20 minutes coming off the bench for NC State this year and chipped in 4.5 points per game. Originally from Canada, he says that people back home have relished following his season.
“I’ve been getting calls from back home from cousins and aunts just saying how proud Toronto is that I’m representing them,” Johnson says. “I just can’t imagine how crazy it would be if we take care of business and go to the Final Four and win the national championship.”
If that happens, that would mean the Pack might have to win a rematch with UNC, something Johnson says is more than just the result of the seeding committee having a sense of humor. “I’ve been talking with my pastor and my mom, and I feel it’s not a coincidence that we’re in the same region as North Carolina,” he says, crediting destiny. “…We deserve another shot at them. The world wants to see it.”