Andy Edwards (@DLNAndyEdwards)
For Ty Johnson, the writing was on the wall.
Despite playing in all 32 games and making nine starts as a freshman last season, the Villanova guard knew minutes were going to be at a premium this time around. Freshman phenom Ryan Arcidiacono made waves throughout the offseason and locked up the starting point guard spot over the summer. Head coach Jay Wright had brought in Tony Chennault from Wake Forest and Dylan Ennis from Rice, strengthening the backcourt in the wake of Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek leaving a year early to turn pro. Fellow sophomore Darrun Hilliard made huge strides over the summer and won the starting shooting guard role. Playing time was running out, and running out fast. Hence his decision to transfer out of Villanova last week.
“I thought it was best for myself and my family to transfer,” Johnson told CoBL on Thursday. “I’ve been taught a lot of things here. It’s a great team, a great program. Overall, I thought for me to be the best person and the best player I can be, it was best for me to transfer.”
For Wright, Johnson’s decision was a disappointing, if not unexpected, sign of the times.
“Guys want to play, and they want to play right away,” said Wright, who noted that there were over 450 transfers throughout college basketball a year ago. “I don’t have any problem with that.
“It comes down to playing time. I don’t have a problem with his decision…As long as the young man tells you honestly, I really respect that. The other option is stay and complain, and not be a part of the team. As soon as he saw the playing time might not be enough for him, he came to me immediately with his decision. He’s never been a problem, and I really respect him. It’s just the way of the world now.”
Johnson averaged 3.3 points and 2.0 assists last season, seeing 17.7 minutes of action per contest. He shot 87.5 percent from the foul line and started nine games when Wayns, now with the 76ers, went down with an injury. With a full season of Big East experience under his belt, Johnson figures to have no shortage of possible transfer destinations. Although the product of Montrose Christian doesn’t have a list yet, he says he’s heard from several schools since informing Wright and the coaching staff of his decision last Wednesday.
“Not right now,” Johnson told CoBL when asked if he had narrowed down his options. “There’s a lot of schools calling, a lot of schools asking about me. I haven’t broken anything down.”
With Arcidiacono, Chennault, and Hilliard ahead of him on the depth chart and Ennis waiting in the wings for next season, Johnson played sparingly in a scrimmage against Fordham and the exhibition against UDC, a trend he didn’t expect to change any time soon.
“We’ve had a scrimmage and an exhibition, and he’s looking at what the possibilities are,” Wright said. “We definitely want him to stay. We definitely thought he could help us.
“I thought Ty handled this extremely well. We’re going to miss him, but I respect his decision, and I really liked the way he handled it.”
Johnson said he will stay at Villanova to complete the academic semester, and will be eligible to play after the first semester next year. While he doesn’t know where he’ll end up, Johnson does know exactly what he’s looking for in making his decision, both on the court and off it.
“Somewhere where I can be the best Ty Johnson I can be, whether that’s on the court or off the court,” Johnson told CoBL. “Going somewhere where the coach needs a point guard and looks for the things that I bring to the table. Somewhere that I’m happy.”