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IU basketball recruiting: Transfer portal names to know — former Pitt point guard Xavier Johnson

The 2021 college basketball offseason is going to be a wild ride.

With seniors able to return for an extra year of eligibility, and the expected passage of a rule providing for a one-time exception to the requirement that transfers sit out a season, what rosters will look like in the fall is anyone’s guess.

With just one class of 2021 high school signee, Indiana is expected to have available scholarships and be active in the offseason transfer market.

One player who hit the transfer portal earlier this week was former Pittsburgh point guard Xavier Johnson.  We brought him to your attention on Twitter when the news hit because of his unique connection to the IU coaching staff.  Johnson was originally committed to attend Nebraska to play for now IU assistant coach Kenya Hunter.  Johnson flipped his commitment to Pittsburgh when Hunter left Nebraska for Connecticut.

A Woodbridge, Virginia, product, Johnson committed to play for Jeff Capel at Pitt in 2018.  He made the All-Atlantic Coast Conference freshman team in 2018-19.

During his junior 2020-21 season, Johnson was averaging 14.2 points, 5.7 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 3.3 turnovers per game in 28.6 minutes per contest.  His 41.7 assist rate is currently No. 7 in the nation according to KenPom.com.  Johnson made 42.6 percent of his attempts from the field overall including 32.1 percent from 3-point range.  He converted 78.7 percent of his free throw attempts.

Johnson’s decision to leave the Pittsburgh team mid-season raises concerns.  Capel said in a statement “it was in everyone’s best interests that we part ways.”  Pittsburgh Sports Now is reporting that Johnson was not kicked off the team and instead left on his own.  He leaves ranked 30th on the school’s career points list (1,152).

It is unclear whether Johnson will graduate and then transfer, but because of the expected passage of the one-time transfer exception, that might be a moot point.  With point guard an area of concern on the IU roster right now, Johnson is obviously a player that IU is connected to, and they could potentially benefit by adding him.

Johnson’s former Pitt teammate, 6-foot-6 junior forward Au’diese Toney (14.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg) also announced he was leaving the team this week.  Johnson was not at Pitt at the same time as recent Indiana graduate transfer addition Parker Stewart, who played for the Panthers for the 2017-18 season.


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