Flau’jae Johnson was in New York for the SLAM Summer season Basic in August when she was requested about essentially the most memorable expertise of her blossoming basketball profession. She solely had to consider it for a couple of seconds.
“Man, most memorable…properly, actually this proper right here, I ain’t by no means been in nothing like this!” she mentioned. “Flew out, penthouse, A-Boogie carried out, this was loopy. That is most likely the spotlight of my entire basketball profession.”
She most likely ought to’ve added “thus far.” In a sport more and more dominated by unicorns, Flau’jae is about to redefine the concept of the supremely versatile hooper, because of her capacity each on and off the court docket. In case you already know her identify, there’s an excellent likelihood it’s as a result of her rhyming expertise. Her capacity as an MC is the largest purpose she claims practically 650,000 Instagram followers and near 120,000 YouTube subscribers—a following that started constructing from the time she appeared on Lifetime’s The Rap Game back in 2017, when she was simply 12 years outdated.
Now a senior at Sprayberry (GA) Excessive in Marietta, the Savannah native has by no means stopped sharpening her music expertise—examine final yr’s XXL freestyle or the array of singles on her YouTube channel for affirmation—at the same time as she’s emerged as the most effective gamers within the 2022 class. And sure, she’s bought the credentials to again up that declare, too: Defensive MVP at this summer season’s Nike Nationals, and MVP of the SLAM Summer season Basic after a efficiency loaded with spotlight performs. More and more, it seems like there’s not a lot the 5-10 combo guard can’t do.
“Lots of people go to the following stage, nevertheless it’s like, who’s actually gonna excel?” she says. “I’ve at all times been the perfect at my stage…Once I go to the following stage, I don’t need to be no common participant. Each time I step on the ground, I deliver that demeanor that no one else bought. I play with a special sort of vitality.”
She credit her hometown for that vitality. “The place I’m from, that’s how we get down—we get in your face, we discuss, we pop our junk. In order that’s what I do, each time.” However her success is right down to extra than simply depth and a killer crossover. She’s pleased with the grind that enables her to maximise her expertise. “I don’t ever let no one outwork me, ever,” she says. “I work onerous. I don’t mess around. What you see on the court docket, it’s like a reproduction of what I already put in.”
By her personal admission, it wasn’t that way back that basketball was one thing Johnson did principally for enjoyable. “I didn’t even know you could possibly go to school for basketball till they began providing me,” she says. “I used to be centered on my music. It wasn’t even on my thoughts.”
That modified when it grew to become clear she was a excessive DI expertise, an evaluation confirmed by a suggestion listing that she not too long ago narrowed to 5 finalists: Georgia, LSU, Miami, Ole Miss and Texas. Evidently, basketball is now very a lot a precedence.
Nevertheless it’s not the one one. Music is in her blood—her father, Savannah rapper Camoflauge, was killed shortly earlier than Flau’jae was born—and he or she’s too good to not hold at it. And no, it’s not loopy to suppose she can be elite in both arenas.
“I wanna be like how—no disrespect—Damian Lillard’s doing, however for actual, for actual. I need to be the primary to ever do it, like, for actual.”
The video games require very totally different ability units, after all, however whether or not on the court docket or on the mic, Flau’jae says there’s a standard thread operating by way of her efficiency.
“My supply, how I rap, I’m coming for you each time,” she says. “You gonna really feel that, like, she talkin’ to me. On the basketball court docket, I’m coming at you an identical approach.”
Portraits Jon Lopez and Jonathan Lewis.