Taylor Johnson has set himself a double mission on his return to Hemel Storm

It took just eight seconds for Taylor Johnson to announce himself back in NBL1. 

Collecting the loose ball from the tip-off, Johnson made a beeline towards the basket with one thing on his mind. And he duly converted the lay-up. 

In his second spell with the Hemel Storm, Johnson finished with 15 points on 7/13 shooting on his debut in their win over Worthing Thunder. 

"I'm just happy to be playing basketball," Johnson said with a beaming smile. 

He will have quite the task of bettering or even matching his first spell at the club. In his first season, he was within inches of success but came up short against Team Solent Kestrels in the men's playoff final. 

Then in 2022/23 Johnson, along with Aaryn Rai, Seth Swalve, Sam Newman, and company, righted the wrong in the most emphatic of ways. 

The 26-year-old American was integral in propelling the Storm to a 41-0 record in all competitions. 

With it came four trophies and, for Taylor, three MVP awards to boot. 

Winning everything, scoring an average of 24.4 points across those two seasons and with an already bulging individual list of accolades, Johnson knew it was the right time to leave. 

The British Basketball League was calling, and Johnson headed to the south-west to join Plymouth City Patriots. 

"I've always believed in my ability to play the game, and I have aspirations to play at higher levels, and I got that chance," Johnson said. 

"I believe that I can play at that level and the experience affirmed what I believed about my ability as a player and that I can play at that level." 

However, despite leading the Patriots at the time with 17.1 points a game, it didn't work out.  

Many were expecting a possible return and Johnson duly obliged in January in what was arguably the most significant deadline day signing in the NBL. 

That unbeaten clean-sweep season might not be topped for many a year, but Johnson – who calls Hemel his second home – wants to continue where he left off. 

"I definitely want to keep winning, that's for sure," he stated. "We will be competing with the aim to win; that's the goal. For me, I'm focused game-by-game, play-by-play, playing to the best of my ability."

A repeat of last season's clean sweep is already a non-starter, with Milton Keynes Breakers lifting the National Cup back in January and the KitKing Trophy final between Derby Trailblazers and Bradford Dragons set for mid-March. 

Regardless, Johnson's goal is evident with two pieces of silverware still available. 

"It's what we're gunning for, but we know that we have to take it one game at a time," Johnson admits. 

"Whatever the team needs from me, I'll do. We just want to compete." 

And with former British Basketball League star Darien Nelson-Henry coming out of retirement to join Johnson at the Storm and not missing a beat since his time with the Leicester Riders, Hemel is sending a clear message. 

There is a storm coming.  



Words: John Hobbs