Basketball

Florida's Keyontae Johnson hospitalized after collapsing on basketball court

Florida standout forward Keyontae Johnson collapsed coming out of a timeout against rival Florida State on Saturday and was taken to a Tallahassee hospital, where the team said he was in critical but stable condition. Johnson tested positive for COVID-19 in the summer.

Player had COVID-19 in summer that can cause viral infection, lead to sudden cardiac arrest

Florida basketball player Keyontae Johnson, right, collapsed on the court Saturday. Johnson had the coronavirus in the summer that could cause myocarditis, a viral infection of the heart muscle that can lead to sudden cardiac arrest. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images/File)

Florida standout forward Keyontae Johnson, the Southeastern Conference's pre-season 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.

On Sunday, the Gators said he was in critical but stable condition at the hospital, where he remained overnight.

The American Hospital Association defines patients in critical but stable condition as having "vital signs that are unstable and not within normal limits. Patient may be unconscious. Indicators are unfavourable."

Florida sent one of its jets to Norfolk, Va., to get Johnson's parents Saturday and take them to Tallahassee to be with their son. Gators coach Mike White, who let his players decide whether to continue playing, also stayed overnight there along with head athletic trainer Dave Werner.

"We appreciate all the medical personnel who have helped Keyontae," Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin said in a statement. "Keyontae received terrific care on site by the FSU staff and at Tallahassee Memorial, which has worked in consultation with UF Health. We're glad his parents can be by his side, and they all feel the support of Gator Nation."

Like most of his teammates, Johnson tested positive for COVID-19 during the summer, which 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.

No details have been released about what might have caused Johnson to crumple to the floor.

The Southeastern Conference mandates strict protocols, including rigorous heart testing, before players can be cleared to return to play following positive COVID-19 tests.

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 White gathered his team to say a prayer.

'We all love him'

The game continued a few minutes later, but the Gators were clearly affected by the scary scene of seeing one of their teammates during a medical emergency.

"I know you're fighting bro," teammate Tre Mann tweeted after the game ended. "God got you."

Florida (3-0) was ahead 11-3 after Johnson's dunk. The 20th-ranked Seminoles (2-0) scored the next seven points.

Florida wasn't the same afterward, getting outscored 80-60 following Johnson's sudden and disconcerting exit. The 20th-ranked Seminoles won 83-71, extending their winning streak in the series to seven and their winning streak at home to 26.

"Please keep praying for Keyontae and his family," White posted on Twitter. "We all love him."

Johnson, a six-foot-five 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.

He scored five points in four minutes Saturday.

"Those types of things can affect you in some adverse ways," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. "We're just all hopeful and praying that he's OK. If it affected our players in an emotional way, I can imagine what the situation was with his teammates."

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