18 Under 18: Zach Johnson

Army-bound baller gained entrance to prestigious aerospace engineering program

Updated: February 29, 2012, 1:37 AM ET
By Matt Remsberg | ESPNHS Magazine

ESPNHS honors 18 male teen athletes who are doing remarkable things on the field, in the classroom and in their communities. Click here to read about them.

The coaches for the King's Fork (Suffolk, Va.) basketball team ask a lot of Zach Johnson. But that's probably because they know he can handle it. After all, patrolling the paint as an undersized center is nothing compared to wrapping your mind around aerospace engineering. For Johnson, both are areas of expertise.

Last year, he was one of a select few high school juniors accepted to the Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology Scholars program, which involved NASA-related research and problem solving.

And he's as good at solving problems on the basketball court as he is in the lab. Despite checking in at 6-foot-5 -- undersized for a high school center -- the 17-year-old Johnson has been a rebounding machine in high school. He averaged 9.6 boards per game as a junior while also putting up 15.6 points per game. He posted similar stats as a senior and led his team to the Virginia Group AAA regional semifinals. As a top-notch student and an elite basketball player, it's no surprise Johnson accumulated plenty of scholarship offers. He ultimately chose Army, although it wasn't necessarily a decision based just on basketball.

"I love the game, but to be able to say I'm serving my country while also getting a world-class education and meeting so many new people was too good to pass up," Johnson said.

He'll continue his advanced studies at West Point. Oh, and he'll play a little ball as well.

Matt Remsberg is a senior editor for ESPNHS.
E-mail him here.