Panthers move on without Johnson

Pittsburgh has lost another scholarship member of its basketball team, as Panthers head coach Jamie Dixon announced on Tuesday that veteran combo forward Durand Johnson won’t be returning for the 2015-2016 season.

Johnson is the third scholarship player with remaining eligibility who won’t return next season for Pitt, as Tyrone Haughton will transfer to another school, while Joseph Uchebo, who has been riddled with injuries throughout his time in the Steel City, may be forced to quit the sport and isn’t expected back for the Panthers either next season.

“It is time to move on,” Dixon said to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “It is time to look for another guy to look for the opportunity to step up. We were aware of this (Johnson not being reinstated and moving on would be the likely outcome) recently.

“We are now going to help Durand in any way that we can find a good situation to finish his college career. I can’t obviously speak to the specifics of the situation but it should be said that we have had no other issues with Durand.”[hr]

Johnson, a native of Baltimore who attended Brewster Academy in New Hampshire, redshirted his first season at Pitt (2011-2012), but emerged as a key contributor as a redshirt freshman in 2012-2013, appearing in 31 games.

The following season, as a sophomore, Johnson recorded eight double-figure scoring outings in 16 games before suffering a tear of the ACL and meniscus in his right knee on January 11, 2014.  He finished the season averaging 8.8 points and three rebounds per contest.

Johnson was expected to return and be a key component of the Pittsburgh rotation in 2014-2015, but Dixon wound up suspending him for the entire season during the fall. He did not appear for the Panthers this past season.

Coach Dixon indicated that he would help Johnson find a new home for his final season of collegiate eligibility. Johnson will have the opportunity to graduate from Pitt this spring, providing him the chance to transfer and play right away somewhere as a senior next season.