Before starring on the basketball court, Donn Johnston, born on March 29, 1951, in Jamestown to Mr. and Mrs. Donald Johnston, was a Jamestown Little League All-Star as well as a football player for the West Side Yellow Jackets of the Jamestown Area Midget Football League. He also played in the Jamestown Babe Ruth League and basketball at the YMCA.
The year before becoming just the second sophomore to make the Jamestown varsity, Johnston was the team's top scorer in leading Lincoln Junior High School (12-0) to the Chadakoin Valley Junior High Conference title.
The 1969 season was a memorable campaign for Johnston and the Red Raiders Coach John (Dutch) Leonard. Johnston averaged 25.5 points per game while scoring 434 points in 17 games in guiding Jamestown to the Section 6 Class AAA title with a lopsided win over Niagara Falls at Buffalo's Memorial Auditorium. He grabbed 17 rebounds per outing and his 1,201 points in three years was the school's career record.