At long last, Cameron Johnson is free to enroll at North Carolina and play basketball for the Tar Heels the next two seasons.
Pittsburgh, where Johnson played the last three seasons before graduating last month, removed its restrictions on his transfer and granted him a full release on Thursday.
A 6-8, 210-pound guard, Johnson averaged 11.9 points for the Panthers last season. Having taken a medical redshirt during his freshman season, Johnson finished his degree at Pitt in three years. He sought a release as a graduate transfer and committed to UNC, but Pitt cited an internal policy when it initially ruled Johnson must sit out one season at his new school.
But on Thursday, the school said it received an interpretation on the rule from the NCAA that allowed it to take a “less restrictive” approach to Johnson’s transfer.
“We were proud to have Cameron as a student-athlete,” Pitt’s statement said, “and are now proud to have him as a graduate of our institution. We wish him the very best as he pursues his graduate degree.”
Pitt had ruled in May that Johnson could contact other schools, including those in the ACC, and immediately be on scholarship at his new school but would have to sit out a year. NCAA rules generally allow graduate transfers to be eligible immediately at their new school without sitting out a season.
Gil Johnson, Cameron’s father who played at Pitt from 1988-90, told the Associated Press on Thursday the last two months have been “frustrating.”
“But I’m a true believer in generally people end up doing the right things more times than not,” Gil Johnson said, “especially by a young man who has given the university everything he could over the past three years. So I was prayerful that Pitt would do the right thing and allow him to pursue his dreams.”
Johnson’s arrival gives UNC, last season’s NCAA champions, a solid perimeter scorer for this season. He made 41.5 percent of his 3-pointers with Pitt last season.
He’ll help the Tar Heels replace Justin Jackson, last season’s ACC player of the year who has entered the NBA draft.