Harley Williamson (West Chester) and Carl Johnson (Rider) will be among seven Aces in the NCAA ranks next season
Ardmore, PA -- Lower Merion Basketball is proud to announce that Carl Johnson ’09 and Harley Williamson ’08 will continue their basketball careers as collegiate scholarship athletes. Johnson is headed to Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ and Williamson will play at West Chester University in West Chester, PA .
Johnson, a lightning-quick 6’0 point guard who was a two-year starter and All-League selection for the Aces, spent the past year at St. Thomas More Preparatory School in Oakdale, CT. During his tenure with the Aces, he garnered 1st team All-Central League and All-Main Line honors (2007, 2008), was named MVP of three in-season events and led the team in scoring during his senior year at more than 18 points per game. He was also the Aces’ top perimeter defender and served as team co-captain. The Aces were a combined 71-22 during his three varsity seasons, which included the state title campaign of 2006.
At Rider, Johnson will play for Coach Tommy Dempsey and will be part of a Broncs program that has emerged as one of the elite teams in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. The Broncs finished with a program-best 23 wins in 2008 and made it to the MAAC tournament final. This year, they won 19 games and competed in their 2nd consecutive post-season tournament.
“Playing D1 basketball at a place like Rider has always been a dream for me, so this is definitely a dream come true. I feel truly grateful to have this opportunity,” said Johnson. “Rider has an excellent program and it will be exciting to compete for a MAAC championship and an NCAA bid each year.”
Johnson thanked his family, friends and the Lower Merion basketball community for their support and credited St. Thomas More coach, Jere Quinn, for helping him to make the most of his post-graduate year.
“Lower Merion Basketball played a huge role in my life and I am so proud of what we accomplished here,” said Johnson. “And this year I was just really focused on taking my game to another level and get that D1 interest. It all worked out great.”
Coach Gregg Downer called Johnson “one of the best athletes to ever come through the program.”
“His story is just tremendous,” said Downer. “He had a dream to play Division 1 basketball and he went out and worked incredibly hard to make it happen. Carl is an unbelievable competitor and he has come so far as a student and an athlete.”
Williamson, a versatile 6’5 swingman was a two-year starter and a first-team All-Central League and All-Main Line selection in his senior season. Williamson led the Aces in blocked shots with 2.3 per game in 2008-09 and earned the team’s Most Improved Player Award. His career was marked by three game-winning buzzer beaters, including a three-pointer to give the Aces a 44-43 playoff win against Penncrest this past season. (Williamson also scored a career high 23 points and collected 14 rebounds in that game). Williamson was a key part of the Aces’ march to a Central League title, a 17-game win streak and state playoff berth in 2009.
Williamson joins a West Chester program that experienced a renaissance under first-year head coach Damien Blair. Blair guided the Golden Rams to an 18-10 record, a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference playoff berth and nine conference wins in 2008-09 – the team’s best overall finish since 2003.
“I’m really looking forward to playing for Coach Blair and being part of an exciting, up and coming program,” said Williamson.“West Chester is a great, local school and the Golden Rams have a great basketball tradition.”
Williamson, brother of former Aces star and current St. Joe’s guard Garrett Williamson, garnered Division 1 interest during the recruiting process, but chose West Chester for a variety of reasons.
“They’ve been there for me all along and they believed in me. When I visited, I just really liked the school and the coaching staff and I felt like it would be an ideal fit,” said Williamson.
“Harley had to overcome two injuries and that is not easy for anyone. To have the opportunity to play at West Chester on scholarship is a real credit to him and a tremendous accomplishment,” said Downer. “He just keeps getting better and his best days on the court are ahead of him.”
Williamson expressed his thanks to “family, friends, teachers, coaches, teammates and fans” at Lower Merion. “Being part of Lower Merion basketball has been one of the greatest experiences of my life and I will remember it forever.”
Johnson and Williamson will be among seven Aces alumni playing in the college ranks next year. The others are Eric Barefield (Alvernia), Ryan Brooks (Temple), Steve Meehan (Gettysburg), Greg Robbins (Richmond) and Garrett Williamson (St. Joe’s).