Today’s high school seniors face a complicated world, but have opportunities to prepare for a bright future.

Ottawa High School senior basketball standout Kobe Johnson was not going to sell himself short on his college basketball aspirations. Johnson’s goal is to be an immediate impact player in college.

To accomplish that goal, the all-state player understood the need to mature as a person and basketball player.

He put all of his post high school choices on the table and found one which appeared to be a perfect match for his situation.

Johnson will keep his college basketball options open for another year and attend Combine Academy, a top International Boarding School and Professional Sports Performance Center in Charlotte, N.C.

Johnson said the decision was a win-win situation.

“I had good schools that [recruited] me, but I felt like there is something else,” Johnson said. “I can go there for a year and get better. It does not take away any college eligibility like a junior college would. It will be the best option for me.”

Johnson hopes to expand his college recruiting after a year in Combine’s program, which placed more than 400 student-athletes in NCAA Division I programs in the past eight years.

Johnson said the college programs interested in him today will be options next year.

“I will be a year more mature and be able to help their programs more,” he said. “I will be more mature as a basketball player and as a person. I want to go to a school where I can play and help from the beginning.”

Top program

Combine Academy markets itself as a school that helps students reach their goals.

Combine Academy offers athletes an all-inclusive and comprehensive solution for obtaining a prestigious academic education. In addition, student-athletes take part in professional level sports training to take their athletic career to the next level, officials proclaimed on Combine Academy’s website.

Johnson said Combine will help him grow in all aspects of life. The program provides a trainer to work on his strength and conditioning and has a nutritionist on site to help with the diet, he said.

Johnson said academically, Combine offers college courses and classes to improve his ACT score.

Combine plays post-graduate programs across the nation and schedules 45-plus games. He will play in front of recruiters from top college programs.

The Combine Academy web page said, “Students will have a recruiting profile that allows college coaches to identify and recruit them at the highest level. We are a player-first program. We will work everyday to ensure that our players are making progress toward their goals.”

“The schools in this area have seen me,” Johnson said. ‘When I go 1,500 miles away, I am a new product for them. I really liked the location. I enjoy Ottawa, but I wanted to get away for a little bit.

“They have a real good basketball program. It will be a fun environment.”

The Combine coaches project Johnson, who measures 6 feet, 5 inches tall, as a small forward who may play a little power forward.

“They like how I can shoot the ball and dribble,” Johnson said. “I can go post up as well. They like that I can guard multiple positions. In some situations, I can guard a [post], too. They think I will fit in well there.”

Leaving home

Johnson knew a change of scenery would be the best opportunity to reach his goals, but leaving home was not an easy decision.

“The hardest part is going so far from home,” he said. “I really appreciate Ottawa and all the support I have received throughout the years. The community helped me out.”

Johnson also turned down hometown Ottawa University, which was coming off its best season in school history. His parents attended OU.

“I have a good relationship [with the staff],” Johnson said. “I went to all the home games this year. It was hard for me to tell them I was not going there.

“Since I have been in fifth grade, coach [Aaron] Siebenthall and the OU staff have supported me. Anytime they could get me in the gym to work out, they always would. In the summer, Coach Sieb would invite me and my brother to their open [gym]. The big thing in college is loyalty. With them being so good to me, it was hard to not choose OU.”