XENIA, Ohio —While a member of the North Surry basketball and volleyball teams, Malaya Johnson led the Lady Greyhounds to a 2A state volleyball championship, a West Regional final, and seven Western Piedmont Athletic Conference championships.
Johnson signed with the Elon University women’s basketball team following her stellar prep career, and has spent the last three seasons as a steadily improving part of the Phoenix’ regular rotation, with 81 starting assignments to her credit. During the 2016-17 season, her third with Elon, Johnson had a breakout campaign of sorts with 9.1 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per contest while rejecting 54 shots to bring her career total to 132, which stands fourth all-time in Elon women’s basketball history. Throughout the season, Johnson shot 54.4 percent from the floor to lead both Elon and the Colonial Athletic Association. As a team, Elon went 27-7 and qualified for the NCAA Tournament.
This week, she’s taking her game to a new locale. Johnson was recently named to a select team of collegiate women’s basketball players from across the country. She will be part of a 12-day trip to Abidjan, Ivory Coast, sponsored by Athletes in Action, that begins on June 29.
“Never in a million years would I have thought I would have the opportunity to play internationally,” Johnson said. “Athletes in Action is giving me the opportunity to not only do that but to also be an advocate for the word of God. I am honored to be a part of a talented group of individuals and I can’t wait to see what awaits in Africa.”
The 6’3” senior center will take part a four-day training camp starting Sunday at the Athletes in Action headquarters in Xenia, Ohio, before heading to Africa from June 29 to July 10. There, she and the team will compete and train alongside the U19 Ivorian National Team and other foreign nations. While in Abidjan, the team will conduct youth basketball camps, coaching clinics and provide humanitarian aid to the greater Abidjan area.
Johnson is the third Phoenix women’s basketball player to participate in an Athletes in Action international tour in the last six years. Sam Coffer joined the program for a 2012 trip to Brazil and Lauren Brown visited Poland in 2015.
At North Surry, Johnson was the WPAC Player of the Year in 2014 after averaging 13.8 points and 10.9 rebounds per game in her seniors season. In basketball, she was All-Conference three times, All-District twice and led the Lady Hounds to three straight conference titles. As a volleyball player, she was MVP of the 2012 state championship match in her junior season, posting 13 kills and 13 blocks on the day as North Surry defeated South Granville for the title.
Athletes in Action is a Christ-based ministry founded in 1966. The organization uses sports as the central theme of its ministry, since sports are a “universal language” understood by everyone. It operates in more than 90 countries around the world. More information about AIA can be found online at www.goaia.org. To follow the team during its trip, visit the team’s blog at http://teamblogs.athletesinaction.org/basketball-ivory-coast.