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December 3, 2012

Johnson decides on Penn State

Penn State men's basketball head coach Patrick Chambers will welcome some much-needed experience in the backcourt for the 2013-14 season.

Hunting Park Warrior's AAU coach Rich Guillen confirmed to Blue White Illustrated Monday afternoon that former Pitt true sophomore guard John Johnson has decided on a transfer to the Nittany Lions.

"It's a great day for Penn State basketball today," Guillen said, noting that Penn State won Johnson's services over St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia. "He really wanted to come back home, but Coach Chambers did a great job handling the situation.

"He's excited. He's really excited."

After visiting St. Joe's on Saturday, Nov. 17, the 6-foot-1, 180 pound point guard from Burlington, N.J., took a trip to Penn State on Sunday, Nov. 25, and very much liked what he saw.

"I think the style was really something that appealed to him about Coach Chambers. He really loved how he was going to be used," Guillen said. "Ironically, the system that Coach Chambers showed him was similar to the Villanova system that Coach Chambers used to be in. Coming out of high school, a lot of the comparisons to John were of Scottie Reynolds, so he can vividly see how Coach Chambers was going to use him. That Villanova system was very guard oriented, so it really appealed to him."

Johnson is a former Rivals.com three-star prospect, but is well-known in the Philadelphia region for his exceptional high school career at both Girard College and Life Center Academy where he averaged 18.8 points, 4 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game.

Of course, for Johnson to land at Penn State he first needed to part ways with coach Jamie Dixon and the Pitt Panthers.

Playing his true freshman season, Johnson averaged 4.2 points per game in roughly 14 minutes of action. But, after opening his sophomore season without logging a minute, Johnson re-evaluated his status with the program and decided he didn't fit into the Panthers' future plans, Guillen said.

"He's very appreciative of Pitt. Obviously, this generation's stigma is, if you don't get it your way, you're leaving," Guillen said. "That wasn't the case. It was just the circumstance. They didn't really consider John being a point guard. They thought he was a good guard, but the system at Pitt, it was a timing thing.

"They have a good guard in (James) Robinson, so it was just the way the hand played out. It was never his intention to leave, but when the writing was on the wall, it wasn't John's wall. You also have Trey Ziegler and he's also bringing the ball up. They signed another point guard for the '13 class. There's not a lot of room there."

Johnson is expected to enroll at Penn State for the spring semester in January, and would begin working out with the team at that point. Still taking classes at Pitt, this will be his final week in Pittsburgh before a few week break before enrolling at Penn State. Due to NCAA transfer rules, Johnson will have one and a half years of eligibility remaining after appearing in the Panthers' exhibition game to open the season.

Additionally, according to Guillen, Johnson's availability to play would actually be sooner than January 2014, though.

"Talking to the compliance guys, he should be available around this time next year," he said. "He's a very humble kid. I think even as this whole thing took off, he was very appreciative of Jamie Dixon and particularly Coach (Brandin) Knight.

"It was a difficult decision for him to make, sacrificing half of his sophomore year, but, it was something that I'm sure he felt he had to do."



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