Well, so much for an impromptu vacation.
You know it’s bad news when a press release is e-mailed out at 5:30 on a Saturday morning:
Redshirt sophomore Cameron Johnson will graduate and transfer following the spring semester school officials announced Saturday morning. The Moon Township, Pa., native will earn his degree in three years at Pitt and have two season of eligibility remaining after receiving a medical redshirt for the 2014-15 season
Johnson averaged 11.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game a year ago as the Panthers finished 16-17 overall and 4-14 in ACC play. A two-time All-ACC Academic Team and a 2017 CoSIDA Academic All-District selection, Johnson finished fifth in the ACC in three-point percentage (.415) and eighth in three-point field goals (2.36 3pg.).
Pitt currently has a seven-player recruiting class featuring highly-touted junior college prospects Jared Wilson-Frame and Troy Simons and high school standouts Aaron Thompson, Marcus Carr, Terrell Brown, Peace Ilegomah and Shamiel Stevenson. The Panthers have additional scholarships available and will look to reshape the 2017-18 roster with graduate transfers, traditional transfers and late signees. Johnson will become the fourth player to transfer out of the program since the close of the 2016-17 season.
Man, I hadn’t even gotten the coffee made when I saw this. Probably a good thing, when you don’t want to do a spit-take on your phone.
Every other transfer, departure, whatever had made sense insofar as a lack of development and the kid simply not being very good at the ACC level. Couple that with the fact that transfers in college basketball are much more commonplace at every program these days. But losing Cam Johnson. That’s bad.
To lose a local kid. A kid who is the son of a Pitt player. The only remaining starter from last year’s team and the best player left. That’s BC-basketball bad.
Cam Johnson seemed to be a player that actually would benefit under Coach Kevin Stallings system. He had a greenlight to shoot. In the second half of the season, really began to show signs of developing the rest of his game. Getting inside more for rebounds and going to the basket. Better effort on defense.
I don’t know what to say here. There will be more later, but this is very abrupt. There are no departing quotes from Johnson. No polite goodbyes from Coach Kevin Stallings. Just that he is leaving, and an ending graph begging for players.
I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it. There was and is no way Stallings would be fired (or in some fantasies, he would voluntarily quit) after one year. No matter how big the drop-off of a program or turmoil; there is not one example out there of a high-major program firing a coach after only one year without some sort of scandal. The school would be hard-pressed to find a good coach — even a retread — willing to take the job when the leash is that short.
Having said that, I am starting to feel the need to walk back my assumption that he will get to at least three years. Stallings in barely a year, has overseen a complete deconstruction of the roster. Next year the team will have (at best) only 3 scholarship players from last year, freshmen, JUCOs, and likely graduate transfers. That’s not a recipe for anything but the cellar of the ACC.
I’m sure there is a need to vent. Try not to cross into personal, libelous stuff that will get you banned.
UPDATE (9:47): Here’s a Trib piece with a quote from Cam Johnson’s dad, Gil:
Johnson, a redshirt sophomore guard, met with Pitt coach Kevin Stallings for three hours Friday and declared his intention to transfer.
“He had no issues with coach Stallings at all,” said Gil Johnson, Cam’s father and a former Pitt player. “They had a plan for him. It was going to be centered around him. But there’s too much uncertainty there. He wants to win, and you’re going to have 8-10 new bodies.”
Graduate transfer with 2 years of eligibility.