The Dayton Flyers bench will soon get more crowded — and more talented — with the addition of a fourth transfer sitting out this season.
Chase Johnson, a 6-foot-9 forward, announced Sunday he will transfer to Dayton. He made his decision one day after visiting the University of Pittsburgh, eight days after visiting Dayton and sitting behind the bench during a game against Georgia Southern and 10 days after announcing he was leaving the Florida Gators program.
Johnson has three seasons of eligibility remaining and would be eligible to play next December after Dayton’s first semester ends unless he successfully petitions the NCAA to allow him to play at the start of next season.
“He’s a really great kid,” said Scott Long, who coached Johnson with the West Virginia Wildcats Select team in high school. “He comes from kind of the country, a little place called Ripley (W.Va.). He’s got a really good family and great values. He’s going to be a great teammate in that respect. He grew a lot in high school and late. He filled out and developed. He reminds me of a European player. He’s got a really high skill set. He can shoot it, and he can dunk on you in a minute.”
Here are 10 things to know about Johnson, who will be the second native of West Virginia to play for the Flyers since Don Smith (1961-64), of Huntington:
1. Last scholarship: Johnson joins Moulaye Sissoko, a 6-10 forward from Lincoln Academy in Suwanee, Ga., in Dayton’s 2019 recruiting class. There are no more scholarships open in the class, though that could change if anyone transfers from the program in the spring.
2. Top recruit: Johnson was a four-star recruit who ranked 98th in the class of 2017, according to ESPN.com. He’s the fourth transfer to join the Flyers in the last 10 months, following Michigan’s Ibi Watson, Chattanooga’s Rodney Chatman and Nebraska’s Jordy Tshimanga, who are practicing with the team this season and sitting on the bench together during home games.
Johnson was a late bloomer, Long said, who started gaining offers from major programs after an impressive performance at the Nike 100 camp in the summer of 2016.
3. High school career: Johnson scored 1,007 points in his first three seasons at Ripley High School, averaging 17.1 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game as a junior. He decided to transfer to Huntington Prep (W.Va.), one of the nation’s top prep basketball programs, for his senior year and averaged 15 points and 12 rebounds.
4. Kettering appearance: Johnson played with Huntington Prep in the 2017 Flyin to the Hoop at Fairmont High School’s Trent Arena. He had 19 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in a 91-60 victory against Wayne.
5. College choice: Johnson announced his verbal commitment to Florida on Oct. 3, 2016, and signed that November, picking the Gators over the likes of Arizona, Clemson, Tennessee and West Virginia.
6. Early hopes: Florida coach Mike White raved about Johnson at Southeastern Conference Media Day before his freshman season.
“Chase Johnson’s in the gym as much as probably anybody on our team outside of Deaundrae Ballard,” White said. “Chase has had a very good fall. He’s tough, he’s versatile. He’s athletic.”
7. Strong start: Johnson scored nine points on 3-of-3 shooting and hit 3 of 3 free throws in the first game of his freshman season. He appeared in the first four games, averaging 4.3 points in 8.3 minutes per game.
8. Missed time: Johnson suffered a concussion in October before the start of his freshman season. He missed two weeks but returned for the season opener. He also missed five games with the flu early in the season and at some point suffered a second concussion in November.
Johnson returned to practice in January, but the decision eventually was made to redshirt Johnson so he wouldn’t lose a year of eligibility.
9. Another setback: Prior to this season, Johnson missed a month of offseason workouts with a neck injury. He returned to action and appeared in Florida’s second and third games this season, playing six minutes in each game and scoring six points on 3-of-4 shooting in a victory against La Salle on Nov. 14.
Then on Nov. 19, according to FloridaGators.com, a teammate hit Johnson in the head with a forearm in practice. It was the same day the Gators left for the Bahamas, where they played in the same tournament, the Battle 4 Atlantis, as the Flyers.
Johnson dealt with headaches after that injury and didn’t play in the tournament. He wasn’t cleared for practice until Dec. 12 and had to wear protective headgear when he did return. Bad luck hit him once again at that point as he had to sit out because of an illness.
10. Transfer decision: Florida announced Johnson’s decision to leave the program on Dec. 27.
“I’m really thankful for the opportunity the coaches gave me,” Johnson told FloridaGators.com. “I tried to make the best of it. Things happened. I got injured and my mindset wasn’t really in the right place. But I appreciate them for believing in me and sticking by me.”