Xavier Johnson has no big plans on Wednesday night to celebrate his commitment to Indiana.
“I’ll probably play a small Call of Duty Warzone,” Johnson said, laughing.
Johnson is back in Fredericksburg, Virginia, the city where he grew up. Earlier in the day, he trained in court. He had also had the air conditioning in his car repaired to relieve the spring heat. “I was sweating there,” said Johnson.
Then at 5:00 p.m., the former Pittsburgh security guard announced on social media that he was moving to Indiana. He still has two years left to qualify.
“The most important thing about my decision was development and going to the program where I think I can have the greatest impact,” Johnson called on Wednesday evening. “And I believe it was Indiana.”
The six-foot 3-inch guard spent three seasons in Pittsburgh and is a 33 percent career on three counts. His best year from behind the arch came in his freshman season when he hit 35 percent.
Last season, Johnson led Pittsburgh in both assists per game (5.7) and steals per game (1.3). He was also the team’s third in scoring with 14.2 points per game, including a 32-point burst against Virginia Tech.
In late February, Johnson announced that he was entering the transfer portal. A few days ago, Johnson released a top four schools: Indiana, Baylor, Houston and St. Joseph’s. What helped Indiana, however, was Johnson’s pre-existing relationship with IU assistant coach Kenya Hunter, who was detained on the IU staff last week after Archie Miller’s resignation.
In high school, Johnson signed his National Letter of Intent with Nebraska, where Hunter was his lead recruiter. But before Johnson came on campus, Hunter took an assistant coaching position at UConn. As a result, Johnson withdrew his national letter of intent and chose to sign with Pittsburgh. Now Johnson and Hunter will be reunited in Indiana.
“He (Hunter) always thought this was the right place for me,” Johnson said. “They need a guard who can paint and get guys open. I think I can be a great asset to them next year. “
Johnson also spoke with head coach Mike Woodson. Johnson believes he can fit into Woodson’s four-for-one-out offensive system. In their conversations, Johnson was impressed by Woodson’s demeanor.
“He’s a very down to earth guy who cares about you both on and off the field,” said Johnson. ‘He’s both on and off the court. You have to go to class and do everything else right. “
Johnson said he has been in touch with some of his new teammates. He plans to arrive in Bloomington in May.
“I just can’t wait to go to Indiana and meet them in person,” said Johnson. “… I just said they’re ready to work. The most important thing I’m going to do is win.”
In his highlights tapes, Johnson shows an elite speed with the ability to create the bounce and score transition. In the past few seasons, Indiana hasn’t had someone who could consistently create for others. However, in his own words, Johnson describes his game as follows:
“I have a big heart that cares about the game,” he said. “I always give everything. That’s what I expect Indiana to think of me. Always give everything. “
At the moment, he trains every day in Virginia with his trainer. Among his training group is former Maryland star point guard Anthony Cowan, but Johnson said he has not yet received advice on playing in the Big Ten.
Another aspect in which Johnson can help the Hoosiers is shooting, an aspect he said he was especially focused on during his recent workouts. The Hoosiers have struggled to consistently shoot from the outside in recent seasons. Johnson, who hit five threes in one game last season, has the potential to become a top scorer.
“I’m constantly shooting the ball,” said Johnson. “I believe I shoot the ball much better than before. I think I can continue to have faith and bring it out next year. “
With the return of Parker Stewart and Khristian Lander, Woodson has a variety of backcourt at his disposal. Johnson, who has played college basketball for three seasons, adds another veteran along with senior with Rob Phinisee. In all, the addition of Johnson has the potential to solve some of Indiana’s most pressing shooting and play-making issues.
While he will soon have to adapt to a new campus, one aspect of Bloomington’s move from Pittsburgh Johnson won’t have to worry, he says, is that he will have to adapt to Pittsburgh’s frigid temperatures.
“There will be no difference,” Johnson said with a laugh.
But to celebrate it all, he’s likely to be playing Call of Duty on his PlayStation 4 for the rest of Wednesday night.
(Photo credit: Pittsburgh Athletics)
Filed With: Xavier Johnson