No 'hard feelings' for North Carolina's Cameron Johnson in return to Pitt
Cameron Johnson enjoyed his return engagement at Petersen Events Center so much he didn’t even mind a smattering of boos when he was introduced to the crowd before the game.
“It was nice to be back,” said Johnson, a graduate student who transferred from Pitt to North Carolina after the 2016-17 season. “I can’t say that enough. Playing a game here in front of the fans, I know I got a couple boos, but that’s OK.
“If you’re a fan of the school and one player leaves that school to go to a different school that you will play, I can understand that.
“The student section was the heaviest with the boos from what I could hear. The (Oakland) Zoo, I loved playing for the Zoo when I was in a Pitt uniform. No hard feelings on my end.”
The Our Lady of Sacred Heart graduate even said if either of his two younger brothers decide to go to Pitt, the family would have no objections.
He said it’s understandable some Pitt fans are upset he left for an ACC rival. After all, Pitt could use an outside shooter of his caliber.
He was 6 of 12 on Saturday and is shooting 52.2 percent from the field this season, better than anyone on Pitt.
Plus, he played 30 minutes without a turnover and recorded nine rebounds and four assists.
“He’s a great player,” Pitt’s Malik Ellison said. “You always have to have an awareness of him.”
Johnson said he was greeted warmly by Pitt staff members and people in the crowd.
“A little blast from the past,” he said. “Those people had been so good to me. For them to receive me this warmly, that’s what really means something.”
Johnson, a Moon native, is North Carolina’s leading scorer (16.3 points) after recovering from offseason hip surgery.
“I feel like I’m a little better overall physically,” he said, “a little more fine-tuned. As I keep getting older, I keep getting better, a little more experienced.”
Johnson is happy making major contributions to the No. 15 team in the nation, one that could be in the hunt for a national championship.
“That’s why I came to Carolina,” he said. “This is what I wanted when I came here. I expected nothing different than to be competing for a national championships.
“Sometimes, it’s good to change. Sometimes, it’s good to try to grow.”
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.