The more versatile the better for Pitt coach Jamie Dixon, and a couple of young Panthers are spending the summer months learning new positions to enhance their worth to the team.
Durand Johnson, who redshirted last season, said the coaches believe his long-term future is as a shooting guard. So the 6-foot-8 native of Baltimore is working his on outside shot and ball-handling skills in an attempt to get on the court sooner.
Johnson currently plays small forward, the same position as Lamar Patterson and J.J. Moore, two players who figure to play the majority of minutes at that position next season. Transfer Trey Zeigler is the likely starter at shooting guard, but Jamie Dixon has several players vying for playing time as his backup. They include Durand Johnson, Cameron Wright and John Johnson, although John Johnson would like to leave his shooting guard days behind him and become a point guard on more of a full-time basis.
Durand Johnson said he can play shooting guard, small forward and power forward, “but the coaches tell me they see me as a 2,” Durand said Wednesday night after his summer league game at the Greentree Sportsplex.
Durand Johnson is leading his team in scoring through two games, but he’s not shooting a great percentage, He was 5 for 15 from the field and scored 15 points Wednesday night. He was 3 for 8 from 3-point range.
Durand Johnson said he is working on his shot selection as well as his handle this summer. He believes he can get in the rotation this fall if he continues to improve.
“I still have a long way to go, but I definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
John Johnson played strictly shooting guard last season and performed well for a freshman, but he said the goal has always been to be a point guard. He is trying to be more vocal with his teammates this summer, continues to work on his ball-handling and penetrating the lane.
By John Johnson learning to play the point, Dixon might not have to worry about recruiting a backup for James Robinson, the incoming freshman who is expected to be the point guard of the future once Tray Woodall graduates after the upcoming season.
“It didn’t happen last season for whatever reason, but it was always in the plan for me to be a point guard,” Johnson said.
John Johnson had a rough first outing in summer league action Wednesday night. He was 1 for 8 from the field with four points, five assists and seven turnovers.
*Robinson likely will play in the summer league for the first time next week. He helped Team USA win the FIBA Americas U18 championship Wednesday night. In five games in the tournament, Robinson averaged 4.4 points and 2.4 assists per game.
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