After a bruising two days which saw three players transfer out of the Virginia men’s basketball program, finally, the Cavaliers have some good news.
Former Rutgers point guard Nigel Johnson confirmed to The Post on Saturday that he will transfer to Virginia, providing a much needed stopgap for a backcourt that graduated London Perrantes this year and lost Marial Shayok and Darius Thompson, both of whom decided to leave the program. Johnson is the first-ever graduate transfer Bennett has brought to Virginia and he will be eligible to play this coming season.
— Nigel Johnson (@TakingFlight_23) April 8, 2017
The 6-foot-1, 186-pound Ashburn native averaged 11.3 points and two assists per game during his lone season at Rutgers, where he started 13 games as a redshirt junior. The former All-Met (Riverdale Baptist) started his college career at Kansas State but transferred after two seasons. Johnson led the Scarlett Knights in scoring in their two Big Ten Tournament games, scoring 21 points against both Ohio State and Northwestern.
In general, Virginia hasn’t been a choice destination for graduate transfers because of Bennett’s defense-based system. Not only does Bennett like to give most players at least a year to learn his pack-line defense, but those who do start during their first year in the program are expected to play with a defense-first mentality. For players looking to make the most out of their final year of eligibility, defense isn’t the splashiest way to garner attention from NBA scouts.
But after Shayok, Thompson and forward Jarred Reuter transferred, Bennett was left with four scholarship positions to fill or carry over to the 2017-18 season and a relatively young roster. Johnson will have the chance to make an impact right away in Charlottesville.