Heel Tough Blog: Puff Johnson to Transfer
After a couple of quiet days around Carolina Basketball, more roster movement news emerged today. As first reported by Joe Tipton of On3 Sports, the program lost its fourth transfer of the off-season this morning in the form of junior wing Puff Johnson. Carolina has already seen Tyler Nickel, Justin McKoy and Dontrez Styles all exit the program, and with Leaky Black out of eligibility, Johnson’s exit leaves the them with no returning wing players for this coming season. Johnson averaged 4.1 points, and 2.7 rebounds this season, which got a late start, as he was battling yet another injury. For his career, Johnson played in 65 career games, averaging 3.1 points, 1.9 rebounds, on 42% shooting from the field.
Entering the 2022-23 season, Johnson was believed to be a clear cut member of Carolina’s rotation, after being one of the only reserves to see playing time down the stretch last in the run to the national championship game. Johnson came to Carolina back in the 2020 recruiting with a lot of expectations, following in the steps of his brother, Cam Johnson, who is now a starter in the NBA with the Brooklyn Nets. While he never quite lived up to those expectations, his energy, effort and hustle, made him a fan favorite.
Even had Carolina not lost the other wing players to the transfer portal, the exit of Leaky Black alone opened up minutes, and opportunities that didn’t exist beforehand. Another wing leaving is very concerning about the future and direction of the program with just how many have since followed. There was a belief after the season ended that Puff would be the front-runner to start next season in Carolina’s revamped lineup, but with him now exiting the program, UNC will have to fill that void via the transfer portal.
After the way the season ended, it was evident that an overhaul was needed of the Carolina Basketball program, but I don’t think many people envisioned an entire position group being depleted.. There has been a lot made about the rotation that Hubert Davis deployed this season, claiming that minutes are earned by the way you play in practice, and of course in the games, but even his own words didn’t line up with the way he managed his roster at times this season. While Davis needs to be held accountable for that, the players on this roster need to take a hard look in the mirror just as their coaches do and ask themselves were they doing what they needed to do to get on the floor? This offseason was already going to be one with a lot of soul searching due to what happened on the court, but it has become even more important with all that has already happened player movement wise.
As much bad news as there is coming out of the program at the moment, good news could be on the horizo, as Davis did have an in-person meeting with Towson transfer Nick Timberlake last night. Landing his commitment could be the first step to rebuilding the Tar Heels roster for 2023-24.