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Pitt Transfer John Johnson Commits to Penn State

When Patrick Chambers was hired by Penn State in June 2011, his deep Philadelphia roots made him a logical choice to lead the basketball program in a positive direction. He had great success recruiting in the City of Brotherly Love as an assistant at Villanova, and on Monday received a commitment from John Johnson, a Philly baller who recently left Pitt’s program.

Johnson was a highly-touted point guard from the 2011 class who played three years at Girard College before finishing his high school career at Life Center Academy in New Jersey. He played in all 39 games as a true freshman for the Pitt, averaging 4.2 points per game in just over 14 minutes per game while shooting 40.2% from the field and making 38.4% of his three-point attempts.

Things changed for Johnson this year however as he didn’t log a single minute in Pitt’s season opening win over Mount St. Mary’s and eventually decided to transfer from the team. Chambers swooped in, getting Johnson on campus a few weekends ago, and securing his commitment Monday.

Johnson’s transfer is atypical from the norm in college basketball. Since he transferred during the middle of the season, just before the conclusion of fall semester, it is expected he will enroll at Penn State before the spring semester– meaning he could be eligible to suit up for the Nittany Lions once the fall 2013 semester concludes.

Like all transfers, he must sit out a year, but could have 2.5 years of eligibility remaining. The catch, however, is that Johnson participated in Pitt’s exhibition games this year. Without an NCAA waiver for participating in the preseason this year, Johnson’s entire sophomore year of eligibility could be wiped out, meaning he’ll either have 1.5 years of eligibility (by playing during the spring 2013 semester and all of the 2014 season), or he sit out the entire season next year, and have 2 years of eligibility starting with the 2014-15 season. (Shoutout to @BSD_Eric for the breakdown on Twitter)

I agree, the transfer stipulations are confusing. But the addition of Johnson inserts even more talent into an already loaded future backcourt. With All-Big Ten guard Tim Frazier seemingly being a lock for a medical redshirt after injuring his achilles and the addition of incoming freshmen guards Geno Thorpe and Graham Woodward, the Lions will be deep at the position for years to come.

Additionally, with Frazier’s return, the addition of Johnson and the four incoming freshmen, Penn State all of a sudden finds themselves oversigned with 15 scholarship players. Two schollies will need to be freed up to acclimate Johnson and Frazier’s return. There have been rumors that redshirt junior Sasa Borovnjak will forego his final year of eligibility and graduate in the spring, opening a scholarship for Frazier, but still leaving them one over the limit.

We’ll see how Chambers deals with the situation, but it certainly looks like a “carefrontation” could be in order, much like the way big man Pete Alexis relinquished his scholarship and left the team after last season.

About the Author

Sam Cooper

Sam is a senior originally from Newtown, PA who majors in print journalism and is a member of the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism. His athletic peak was age 11 so he decided to grow a beard and write about sports instead.

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