She played just under nine minutes in that first game, scoring her first bucket as a Tiger and catching three rebounds. Little did she know that her workload was about to get much heavier and faster.
Senior Kiyae’ White, Auburn’s starting player all season up to that point, worsened an injury at Auburn’s Florida game four days later and was unable to play. Then, in her second game as Auburn Tiger – less than a week after she was cleared to train – Precious Johnson found herself in the starting lineup.
“I was honestly super excited,” she said. “I was like, ‘Wow, the coach is really going to start with me.’ It made me even more determined to work hard because (I knew) people depended on me. We had injuries happening, so I was like, ‘You’re really depending on me, so I really have to work hard to be great here.’
She played 29 minutes that night with seven points and five rebounds as Auburn came agonizingly close to claiming her first SEC win, going down 68-63 in Gainesville after failing to retain the lead in the finals.
In all, she would play in 12 of the final 15 games of the season, starting eight, averaging 5.2 points and 4.0 rebounds. She will be the Tigers’ third-highest rebound to return for 2022-23. And it was evident that his fitness level and confidence continued to improve throughout the season – culminating in an 18-point, 10-rebound performance in Kentucky for his first career double-double.
“I think this was a game that I’m going to look back on and think, ‘OK, this is where you need to start now,’” Johnson said. “It was also exciting for me, because it’s my first double-double in college, and some people I wanted to be here aren’t here, so I was trying really hard for them. So that also made me happy at the same time.”