Xavier Johnson has been a bonafide star for Pitt in his first year in college basketball leading the team in both scoring and assists. The ACC announced its all conference teams this afternoon, and Johnson received some recognition for his efforts being named to the ACC All-Freshman team.
Johnson set 6 individual Pitt freshman records this year. He broke the records for total points, points per game, 20+point games, double-figure scoring games, games with 15 or more points, and free throws. He was the only ACC player to average 15+ points per game, and 4.5 assists per game.
Joining Johnson on the All-Freshman team is Duke’s Zion Williamson (duh), Duke’s RJ Barrett (duh), UNC’s Coby White, and Duke’s Tre Jones. As you can see, Johnson was the only player on the team not from Duke or North Carolina. That’s not the only reason he sticks out either..
All-ACC freshman team with recruiting rankings.— Jim Hammett (@JimHammett) March 11, 2019
Zion Williamson five star 5th overall.
Coby White five star 26th
RJ Barrett five star 1st
Tre Jones five star 14th
Xavier Johnson, three star (not included in the Rivals 150 rankings)
Many people felt Xavier Johnson was an underrated recruit to begin with, but I think few thought he would be the star he was this year. This speaks to Capel’s coaching, but mostly Johnson’s ability and work ethic. He’s easily the best freshman Pitt has had since DeJuan Blair, and I think he’s the best point guard Pitt has had in a long time. I don’t think Pitt has had a point guard so willing to attack the basket since maybe Levance Fields, let alone a freshman point guard? James Robinson was a great floor general, but could not be relied on to take over a game. Tray Woodall occasionally had that take-over game, but it wasn’t to the consistent level Johnson had this season.
Obviously, Johnson got some opportunities as a freshman that not many would because of the position the program was in terms of lack of talent. That’s not Johnson’s fault though, and he probably came to the program knowing that would be the case. He took full advantage of the opportunity, and has shined to lead the freshman trio with Trey McGowens and Au’Diese Toney.
I would have killed for Pitt to have a point guard like Xavier Johnson in prior seasons where they lacked a guard with a killer instinct, but I’ll take having him as a foundation for hopefully getting Pitt back into the NCAA tournament in the next few years.