The Journal Gazette
Thursday, April 08, 2021 1:00 am

IU gets seasoned transfer from Pitt

3-year player cites Woodson's play style

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

In his first nine days on the job as Indiana head coach, Mike Woodson convinced three Hoosiers to remove their names from the transfer portal, hired Dane Fife as an assistant coach and convinced star forward Trayce Jackson-Davis to spurn the NBA and return to Bloomington.

On the 10th day, Woodson added a piece from outside the program.

Former Pittsburgh guard Xavier Johnson will transfer to Indiana and play for the Hoosiers next season, he announced Wednesday on Instagram. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Johnson was the No. 30 player – high school or college – who had not yet committed to a school for next year, according to The Athletic.

Despite playing three years at Pittsburgh, Johnson has two years of eligibility remaining because of the extra year granted by the NCAA during the coronavirus pandemic.

Johnson chose the Hoosiers over Baylor, Houston and St. Joe's. Beating the Bears for a prominent transfer might have been difficult after they won a national championship Monday with a roster full of players who started their careers elsewhere, but Woodson and his staff were able to pull it off.

The new Indiana coach said when he took the position that he would not be shy about using the transfer portal to bolster the Hoosiers' roster, especially if some of the IU players who put their names in the portal following the dismissal of former coach Archie Miller decide to play elsewhere. Sophomore guard Armaan Franklin and redshirt junior forward Race Thompson are the Hoosiers remaining in the portal.

“I'm going to do my best, put my best foot forward to see that the guys I think can help us move forward in this program, that they stay on board,” Woodson said. “But if not, then I've got to go to Plan B and probably go in the portal and try to find players that I think fit the system that can help us win basketball games here.”

Johnson was a high-volume shooter and creator with the Panthers – he averaged 14.2 points last season on 42.6% shooting and ranked No. 17 in the country with 5.7 assists per game. He shot just 32.1% from 3-point range but has shot better in the past, including a 35.2% clip as a freshman in 2018-19. He also turned the ball over 3.3 times per game in 2020-21.

In Johnson's three years with Pittsburgh, he scored more than 1,100 points after being just the No. 232 recruit in the country out of high school. He also averaged 1.5 steals in his three seasons.

The Woodbridge, Virginia, native told the Daily Hoosier that he likes that Woodson “lets his point guards rock” and it also helped Indiana's cause that he had a previous relationship with Indiana assistant coach Kenya Hunter. 

Johnson originally committed to Nebraska out of high school when Hunter was an assistant there and de-committed when Hunter took a job with Connecticut. Woodson decided last week to keep Hunter, who was hired at IU by Miller, on his staff.

The Hoosiers might not be finished shopping in the transfer portal, either. After Johnson announced his decision in a social media post, Trayce Jackson-Davis posted a video clip to Twitter in which Los Angeles Rams cornerback Marcus Peters repeats the line:

“I think we ain't done yet.”

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