HUNTSVILLE | Johnson University women's basketball head coach Bryon Lawhon might just consider leasing an apartment in Scott County.
The first-year head coach has spent a lot of time here since being named to head up the women's basketball program at the south Knoxville university. And, on Friday, he signed his third player from Scott County.
Scott High senior Annalyne Woodward inked a letter of intent with the Royals during a ceremony at Highlander Gymnasium Friday afternoon. She became the second Lady Highlander to sign with Johnson — teammate Brianna Jeffers had already committed to the Royals — and the third from Scott County overall. Last month, Oneida senior Kelsey Pike signed with Lawhon's program.
A native of the Loudon area, Lawhon became a household name at the NAIA level in East Tennessee when he built Bryan College in Dayton, Tenn. into an Appalachian Athletic Conference powerhouse.
Under Lawhon's tutelage, Bryan went 29-0 in 2021-2022, breaking 18 team records. The Lions were the only undefeated team in the NAIA that season. It was part of an 88-game conference winning streak.
Lawhon was named the AAC coach of the year, and his Lions finished the season ranked in the Top 10 nationally, before making it to the Sweet 16 of the NAIA National Tournament. Following the conclusion of that season, Lawhon made the move to Johnson University.
Johnson is a small, private Christian university located on the banks of the French Broad River just outside Seymour, south of Knoxville. A sister campus is located in Kissimmee, Fla.
Scott High coach Jake Wright, who coached both Woodward and Jeffers from their sophomore year onward, is no stranger to Lawhon. They served on staff together at Bryan College, where Wright was a graduate assistant coach and the JV head coach of the men's program before making a move to nearby Cleveland State.
Johnson's current roster includes players from throughout East Tennessee — like Jordan Heifner from Carter, Kyra Buntyn from Knox West, Cassidy Hill from Powell, Josie Harbin from Grainger, Jade Mullins from First Baptist Academy, and Chloe Maggard from Union County.
In Lawhon's first year at Johnson, the Royals went 10-17, an improvement from just four wins the year before. Almost everyone returns from this past year's team as Lawhon and his staff gear up for Year 2.
At Scott High, Woodward returned from a season-ending knee injury that occurred during a Christmas tournament her junior year. Ironically, she was having the best game of her career — against Sunbright at Oneida — when the injury occurred.
After surgery and rehab, Woodward worked her way back into the lineup as a senior and was the Lady Highlanders' vocal leader.
Woodward was joined at Friday's ceremony by her coaches — both past and future — and her family, along with many of her high school teammates.
In addition to the three local basketball players, Oneida senior Alexea Jones recently signed to play soccer at Johnson University, as the Scott County influence on Johnson's athletics program continues to increase.