Pitt transfer John Johnson getting local looks

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Former Pitt guard John Johnson (right) is already hearing from several Philly-area schools. (Photo: Chaz Palla/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Garrett Miley (@GWMiley)

Pittsburgh sophomore guard John Johnson has been granted his full release from the university tonight, clearing the way for him to transfer, CoBL has learned, and some local schools are already interested. The 6-foot-1 guard was struggling to fit into coach Jamie Dixon’s backcourt rotation, and it was announced last week that he intended to transfer. Johnson did not appear in any games for Pitt this season, but played in 39 games averaging 4.2 points per game last season.

Johnson is a Philadelphia native who attended Girard College for three years and later graduated from Life Center Academy (NJ). Combined, he amassed 2,314 points in his high school career, averaging 19.6 points per game. As a senior at Life Center Academy, Johnson was named to the New Jersey All-State Prep team.

Johnson is set to visit Saint Joseph’s tomorrow, then Penn State on Sunday.

Saint Joseph’s could be a great fit for Johnson given their lack of guard depth, especially after Carl Jones, a senior, leaves at the end of the year. If playing time is Johnson’s biggest desire, the Hawks make a lot of sense. Johnson, an off-ball guard, would fit in nicely playing alongside current sophomore Chris Wilson and current junior Langston Galloway in the Saint Joseph’s backcourt. Johnson was considering Saint Joseph’s before committing to Pitt, so coach Phil Martelli and the Hawks make a ton of sense for Johnson.

The Hawks struggled to deal with the recent 3-game suspension of Carl Jones (violation of community standards) because it left them with only two true guards to work with in rotation. At times against Yale and Notre Dame, the Hawks were forced to run a four forward lineup with either Wilson or Galloway running the point.

Penn State may also have a potential opening for a guard, as they could lose current points per game leader Tim Frazier (senior) after the season unless he redshirts after tearing his Achilles last week. If Johnson goes to Penn State, he would likely find himself in a rotation with current junior Jermaine Marshall and current sophomore D.J. Newbill. Both Marshall and Newbill are averaging double figures this season, 11.6 and 13.6 points per game respectively.

Another Philadelphia school, Drexel, is also showing potential interest in Johnson. Drexel will graduate their current leading scorer for the season, Chris Fouch (16.7 points per game), unless he petitions for a sixth year after injuring his ankle last week.

Because Johnson is a mid-year transfer and played in Pitt’s two pre-season games, he likely won’t be able to play until the first semester ends next season for the team he transfers to and will be considered a junior. Regardless, if Johnson stays local, he figures to have a large impact on Philadelphia area basketball next season.

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