This week marked a significant change in Pitt’s recruiting, as the focus shifted from the 2019 class to the 2020 class. And one of the most notable developments over the past few days was Jeff Capel’s decision to offer Donovan Johnson, who holds four-star ratings from ESPN and 247Sports and is the brother of former Panthers standout Cameron Johnson.
Johnson’s recruitment has experienced a serious upswing over the past few days, as he has received offers from Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State and TCU in addition to his hometown school during that span. And in the midst of the frenzy, Johnson paused to discuss his recruitment and Pitt, in particular, with Corey Evans of Rivals.
“I love Pitt,” Johnson said. “I have always watched Pitt basketball. Watching Sam Young, DeJuan Blair, Brad Wanamaker and Gilbert Brown, the list goes on and on. I [grew] up going to the games, and when I was young, it was always my dream [to] play there one day."
"My dad played at Pitt, and he put in the hard work and showed me that dreams could come true," he continued. "Cam told me the same thing. That going through the recruiting process, just work really hard, play hard in front of the coaches, and it will all work out.”
One concern regarding Johnson’s recruitment has been whether his brother’s tumultuous transfer from Pitt to North Carolina would impact his upcoming decision. Johnson shed some light on that matter, noting that he harbors no ill will toward the current staff over issues that arose during the Kevin Stallings era.
“Coach Capel and the new coaching staff — of course, Coach Stallings was there whenever Cam left — Coach Capel is a great guy, and I can’t complain,” Johnson said. “He is looking out for what is best for me, and I have no hard feelings for them at all.”
Last season at Moon Area High School, 19 miles from Pitt’s campus, Johnson averaged 22.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. By all accounts, Johnson is also a more developed player than his brother was at the same age, and college coaches were turned onto that fact by Moon head coach Adam Kaufman, who sent out highlight footage to programs in March. Kaufman also broke down the intangibles Johnson brings to the table.
”Obviously, he’s special,” Kaufman told Mike Bires of the Beaver County Times. “He’s a hard-working kid who wants to learn and get better. He’s really driven and motivated. He’s a good teammate and very coachable. He doesn’t give you any crap. He’s a really, really good kid. I can’t say that enough.”
Johnson hasn't set a date to announce his college decision, but as a 2020 recruit, he has a year before the final signing period of his recruitment comes to a close.