La Salle head coach John Giannini has had success with transfers in the past. He will look for that same type of productivity from former PIAA Class 4A champion, B.J. Johnson. Johnson, a 6-foot-7, 190 pound, small forward, attended Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, PA before playing two seasons for Syracuse under coach Jim Boeheim.
La Salle’s last appearance in the NCAA tournament was back in 2013, when they made it all the way to the Sweet 16. Recent graduates, Ramon Galloway and Tyrone Garland, both transfers from Philadelphia, played a key role during the surprise run in March.
Once rated the 17th best small forward in the country by ESPN, Johnson had his best season for the Aces during his senior year of high school. The left-handed “guard” (the position he played before he went to Syracuse) averaged 16.5 points and 7.4 rebounds which helped his team win thirty games and a PIAA Class 4A championship.
Johnson did not play a significant role for the Orange during his freshman year, only appearing in ten games. His opportunity to prove himself increased throughout his sophomore season, but he only averaged 4.1 points and 3.1 rebounds in 25 games. He did show signs of improvement towards the end of the season when he played against Notre Dame, who would later go on to play against Kentucky in the Elite Eight, scoring 19 points and grabbing 6 rebounds.
The Explorers would ultimately land Johnson, but Temple, St. Joseph's, Penn State and Seton Hall also showed interest. La Salle’s ability to add transfers into the core of their team was not the only factor in his decision to leave. His father, Robert Johnson, played for La Salle from 1986 to 1990, scoring 870 points during his collegiate career.
Coach Giannini will have to wait to see the 19 year old play in Tom Gola Arena, as Johnson has to sit out the 2015-2016 season because of NCAA transfer rules. However, he will be eligible to play at the start of the 2016-2017 season.
Photo courtesy of empirewritesback.com