TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida standout forward Keyontae Johnson, the Southeastern Conference’s preseason player of the year, collapsed coming out of a timeout against rival Florida State and needed emergency medical attention. Johnson was taken off the floor on a stretcher and rushed to Tallahassee Memorial for evaluation.
The Gators said he was in critical but stable condition at the hospital.
Johnson had just dunked in transition before he fell to the floor as the team broke its huddle. Several Gators were in tears and a couple buried their faces in towels as coach Mike White gathered his team to say a prayer.
The game continued a few minutes later, but the Gators were clearly affected by the scary scene of seeing one of their teammates in the midst of a medical emergency.
Florida (3-0) was ahead 11-3 after Johnson’s dunk. The 20th-ranked Seminoles (2-0) scored the next seven points. Florida State pulled away from there and led 45-35 at halftime, outscoring the Gators 42-24 after Johnson’s collapse.
Johnson, a 6-foot-5 junior from Norfolk, Virginia, averaged a team-high 14 points last season to go along with 7.1 rebounds. He also led the Gators with 38 steals.
Like most of his teammates, Johnson tested positive for COVID-19 during the summer. Although the cause of Johnson’s ailment was not immediately known, the coronavirus can lead to myocarditis, a viral infection of the heart muscle. At its most severe, myocarditis can lead to sudden cardiac arrest and has been a documented cause of death for young, otherwise healthy athletes.
The Southeastern Conference mandates strict protocols, including rigorous heart testing, before players can be cleared to return to play following positive COVID-19 tests.