Senior season in question for Moon basketball star Donovan Johnson

Tuesday, April 23, 2019 | 10:13 AM

Moon junior Donovan Johnson won a state basketball title this winter as one of the best players in the WPIAL, but his eligibility for next season is in question.

High school athletes are allowed only six seasons of interscholastic basketball after sixth grade under PIAA rules, and the WPIAL board believes Johnson already has reached that limit, WPIAL executive director Tim O’Malley said. When Johnson transferred from Our Lady of the Sacred Heart to Moon last summer, the WPIAL notified Moon in August that 2018-19 would be his final season of basketball eligibility.

The 6-foot-7 guard/forward has played six basketball seasons between Moon, Rhema Christian Academy and OLSH, O’Malley said.

Moon has requested an opportunity to appeal, so the WPIAL on Tuesday scheduled an eligibility hearing for Johnson, O’Malley said. The hearing was tentatively scheduled for April 30, but Moon has requested a later date.

A message left for Moon principal Barry Balaski was not immediately returned.

“We wanted to get that scheduled as quickly as we could,” O’Malley said, “in the event that they want to appeal to the PIAA, they could do so before the school year is out.”

Johnson averaged 22.6 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 blocks this past season for Moon, which won the PIAA Class 5A title. He holds a number of major-college offers including Arizona and Xavier.

Under PIAA rules, an athlete who repeats a grade can be granted a seventh season if that student can demonstrate a hardship, and he played no more than 25 percent of his basketball team’s regular-season games in that repeated year.

“They would have to be able to demonstrate that there was a rational reason why that grade had to be repeated,” O’Malley said, “and if there was a hardship or ailment that they can rationalize, then you can give him another year of eligibility provided he didn’t play in 25 percent of the games.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at or via Twitter .


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