A while back, I checked in on Pitt transfer Joseph Uchebo, now at Charlotte. That led me to another guy that recently left the program - forward Durand Johnson.
If there's one thing Johnson proved while he was at Pitt, it was that he could score. After transferring to St. John's, the senior got his chance to do even more of it this season.
Johnson left Pitt after some troubled years. He missed much of the 2013-14 season with an ACL injury. Then, when he was on the cusp of returning, was suspended for a year in 2014-15. Eventually he transferred out of the program and head coach Jamie Dixon seemed pretty nonplussed at the time. Shortly after it was announced he wouldn't be returning, it was learned he was headed to St. John's.
The good? Johnson is actually the Red Storm's leading scorer. He's gotten to be a starter and playing more than he had at Pitt. Johnson has scored at least 15 points in ten games this year and one of those was a 15-point effort in an upset win over Syracuse. He also tallied 38 total points in a pair of contests against Marquette and has at times, carried the team.
The bad? Well, a few things.
Johnson is starting this year and playing nearly 30 minutes a game. He is averaging a somewhat modest 12 points per game, considering the playing time he is getting, but far worse is that he's still struggling with his shot - a trait he showed while at Pitt.
To get those 12 points per contest, Johnson is shooting a career-low 37% from the floor (the first time in his career he's even been under 40%). A somewhat streaky three-point shooter with the Panthers, he is struggling there, too, making only 31% of those attempts - also a career-worst.
In a bigger role, he's also turning the ball over more. Yes, he's playing more minutes, so that's to be expected to some degree. However, the eight more minutes per contest only equals about a 30% increase from his last season at Pitt. At St. John's this season, he's completely doubled his turnovers, going from .9 per game at Pitt to 1.8 with the Red Storm.
To add insult to injury, Johnson's team is having a terrible season by any measure. At 8-20 overall and 1-14 in-conference, the Red Storm are at the very bottom of the Big East. The team got off to a 7-3 start and considering two of their losses came to ranked teams, that was reasonable. But after that, things fell off the track and St. John's lost an unreal 16 consecutive games, including an absolute head-scratcher to NJIT.
All of that, of course, is somewhat ironic considering Johnson is now back in the conference where he got his start with Pitt.
The Red Storm defeated DePaul earlier this week to snap that abysmal streak, but Johnson contributed to the team's latest lost to Seton Hall on Sunday, too. With the score tied at 60 and ten seconds left, Johnson made the first free throw to give St. John's a lead. But he missed the second and Seton Hall went on to make a pair of late free throws to win the game.
I wish things would have gone better for him this year. He was a capable player at Pitt and despite the shooting inconsistencies, he provided a much-needed offensive spark at times. To wish ill will on him for transferring out of the program doesn't do anyone any good. But despite getting a chance to be a starter, I'm sure he envisioned his senior season would go much better than it has.