Pitt transfer Xavier Johnson commits to IU

Report via Indy Star’s Zach Osterman:

IU got more good roster news Wednesday, when Pitt guard Xavier Johnson announced he plans to transfer to Indiana.

Johnson picked the Hoosiers over a group of finalists that included Baylor, St. Joseph’s and Houston.

One of the top point guards in the transfer portal, Johnson averaged 14.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game last season. Across 18 games with the Panthers before entering the portal, Johnson posted an assist rate of 42.3%, the fourth-highest such number in the country per Ken Pomeroy.

Johnson was among the transfer market’s most-prized targets in the current cycle.

He will bolster an IU backcourt that could yet return Armaan Franklin, who is also currently in the portal. Rising sophomore point guard Khristian Lander announced his intention to withdraw from the portal and remain at Indiana earlier this week.

In Johnson, IU coach Mike Woodson adds a player who can score and distribute in equal measure. Johnson can also finish well around the rim and is a good free-throw shooter.

From a scholarship perspective, Johnson essentially fills the hole left by Al Durham’s departure. Had Durham elected to take his fifth year of eligibility in Bloomington, he would not have counted against the program’s scholarship cap, but Johnson’s arrival does not leave a serious crunch in that area, either. Were both IU players still in the portal — Franklin and Race Thompson — to choose to return to Bloomington for the 2021-22 season, Johnson would still only fill the 12th of the Hoosiers’ 13 scholarships.

Johnson’s ability to impact the game both through scoring and creating for teammates should be a welcome addition to an offense Woodson intends to ground in NBA concepts of pace and space.


  1. Step one completed. Now, a stretch forward that can put the ball on the floor and score. Let’s be honest here, this roster needed massive changes and it is happening.

    1. Hopeful, you are correct. It was obvious that IU’s roster needed significant changes. Now it’s happening and it is very exciting.

      I wonder how Franklin is feeling about this news and how it affects his decision. Obviously, Woody is not waiting around to upgrade the roster.

      1. I agree that Woody isn’t waiting around. I think Armann’s mother is shopping schools for him. Interesting no news or word from Phinisee (always wondered if he was a party animal — one night really good, next time looked like he had a hangover or something). No word from Race’s camp either…. I think he is leaving for sure ……. hate that, need his size inside.

  2. Xavier Johnson is “a player who can score and distribute in equal measure. Johnson can also finish well around the rim and is a good free-throw shooter.” That kind of performance is much needed and will be a joy to behold!

    Can’t wait to see what happens next.

  3. Article fails to tell us if he’s a sophomore, junior, senior….? How did Pitt do in the NCAA tournament this year? Does he have big stage experience?
    .321 3-pt % is considerably lower than Franklin (.450), Durham (.385) and Hunter (.343).

    It’s o.k. news…but some of you are getting carried away. Losing Franklin is not something we want.

  4. Haven’t seen him play so I’ll just assume he’s more valuable as a play-maker, ball-handler, distributor…tear-dropper…mid-ranger. But for those who complained about perimeter shooting last year, he doesn’t appear to be an upgrade in that department.

    Do need way more depth on the inside….Rome wasn’t built in a day.

  5. After reading about Xavier Johnson’s decision to transfer to IU and TJD’s decision to stay, there seems to be a common theme coming from the players Woodson has recruited; he’s very honest! Woody does not blow smoke up their fannies and immerse them in praise. He articulates his vision and then tells them what he believes they need to do to improve and fit into his system. He’s basically telling them, “we’re going to coach you real hard to make you better, and it’s not going to be comfortable.” So far, these young men are embracing that honest, straight-forward approach. Soon the word will get out, “No matter how talented you are, if you’re a snowflake, IU’s not the BB program for you.” Pampered prima donnas not welcome here! IU BB the way it was meant to be.

  6. If we don’t want any thoughts, visions, acceptance of pampered prima donnas, then can we please take down the locker room lounge/playroom dedications for Zeller and Oladipo? Can we save that for true gritty ballers who follow through on promises in doing everything in their power to take IU back to Final Fours?
    Am I safe to suggest such a thing…now that the Indy love affair with Victor is over? And in the NCAA tournament, Zeller played against Syracuse like a ham sandwich on pampernickel. And then “adios, see you later.” Everything hinges on money.

  7. I think it’s Covid….Can I blame Covid? Did everyone here get their Covid shot? How about the old-timers? Did you get your shot?

    Sort of strange…I think we’ve all been operating on a very heightened alert state (Covid avoidance…Covid fears…Covid anxiety…Covid frustration, etc) and have grown so accustomed to the “state” that we almost have forgotten it’s there. It’s something primal in our DNA…It’s something like an unconscious awareness of being in a perpetual defense mode ….going back to the days we first roamed the planet and predators were at every turn.

    I didn’t realize I was at such a heightened state until weeks after getting the Covid vaccine….I think I’m still coming down off a sensory high I took for granted. Hard to explain. It’s as if I miss the heightened state and a sort of purpose has been lost. Or maybe I’m just having unusual side-effects from the vaccine…? Or maybe it’s a combination of both?

    Many people say they feel a huge sense of relief once they get vaccinated….Didn’t affect me in that same manner. I feel as if too much adrenaline has been turned off.

    I think we also have to understand the complexities of how this virus (or the mere presence of it) can really alter peoples emotions without really realizing it. I think young people and college athletes have not been given enough understanding in how difficult this has been to navigate from an emotional/mental standpoint. Dealing with it is all over the spectrum. There is a trauma involved that we have flippantly ignored……or trivialized as we do with all things that have the potential to cause emotional trauma/depression and longing anxiety.

  8. The things I like best is this guy is ultra quick, has elite speed in CBB. Drives relentlessly into the paint and can dish to other shooters. Averages over 5 assists. Downside, 3 turnovers a game.

    1. Well, the TOs are a problem, but it has been reported that many of them are caused by him playing too fast. I’d rather need a fast guy to slow down than to need a slow guy to speed up.

  9. Just read that Race Thompson is returning to IU. So that’s great news.

    Now it’s down to AF. But I have a feeling that his issue is not related to BB or his new coach. He seems like a great kid, he obviously has enormous talent, and we’d love to have the depth, but if AF chooses to transfer, it appears to me that Woody has already replaced him.

  10. Need to add some girth and rebounding around the basket. Need a garbage man like Vital on Baylor. In my opinion (my usual caveat of humility) so much about winning college basketball games boils down to possessions. A team must value its possessions/the ball. The team with the most possessions usually wins, especially in tight games.

    Case in point, Baylor took 18 more shots than Gonzaga & hit 5 more baskets, all of which were 3s. They ended up having 16 additional possessions via rebounding and 5 more possessions through the TO differential.

    1. Agree…per usual again, AWinAZ. You have a very good skill at identifying our roster needs.

      Baylor vs. Gonzaga..? Doesn’t hurt when you shoot 60% on 3-pt shots in the first half. I don’t know how much you need to rebound balls that find the center of the rim. Of course, it’s also saving some possessions before those shots fell….(e.g. extending possessions).

      We need guys who can play with pace, urgency and possess abundances of versatility. Baylor always had five on the floor who can do that. And such speed/pace is only as strong as its weakest link. Woodson has enormous work to do if wants to replicate anything close to that “style.”

  11. Between Thompson returning, and Jackson Davis and Duncomb in the front court, rebounding should be ok. Now Woodson needs to add an an athletic forward that can run and score. If that happens, IU could actually be very good next season.

    1. Yes, another athletic big with some girth/muscle would be ideal, especially since we really don’t know if Brunk’s back will allow him to play a lot of minutes, or any at all.

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