Pitt redshirt sophomore forward Durand Johnson is out for the season with a torn ACL and meniscus injury that occurred in the second half of the Panthers 80-65 win over Wake Forest Saturday at the Petersen Center
Johnson will undergo knee surgery sometime within the next week at UPMC South Side Hospital. The surgery will repair the injuries in his right knee and will be performed by assistant team physician Robin West and Dr. Steve Rabuck. He will have a 9-12 month rehabilitation process.
“We are thoroughly heartbroken for Durand,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. “With his passion for the game and outstanding work ethic, Durand has contributed significantly to our success. He has made so much improvement in all facets of his game this year. I expect that same passion and work ethic to help Durand return at 100 percent next season.”
In 16 games played off the bench this season, Johnson ranks fourth on the squad in scoring (8.8 ppg.) and second in 3-pointers made (22). While averaging 19.8 minutes per game, Johnson grabbed 3.0 rebounds per game, converted 33.8 percent (22-65) of his 3-point attempts, hit 85.3 percent (29-34) of his free throw attempts, had 23 assists and finished with 14 steals.
He reached double-figure scoring in eight games and hit at least one 3-pointer in 10 contests.
Johnson took a pass from Talib Zanna with 5:30 to play in the game and drove the right side of the lane where he appeared to either get his legs tangled with a Wake Forest defender or get knocked off balance by the defender and twisted his knee awkwardly when he landed.
A foul was called on the play and Johnson, who scored 11 points and grabbed three rebounds, hit both free throws to give the Panthers a 73-54 lead. He was substituted for immediately after the second free throw did not return to the game.
After the game, Dixon said he didn’t know what Johnson’s status was but that he was being evaluated and Sunday morning he got the news that Johnson was out for the year.
Johnson is the Panthers 6th man and is a sharp shooter from the 3-point line who brings instant offense and energy off the bench so he will not easily be replaced.
However, the Panthers are versatile and have several players capable of playing a couple of positions. The immediate beneficiary of Johnson’s loss in terms of playing time is likely freshman Chris Jones, but Dixon has other options to mix and match his lineups.
Johnson, who Dixon has praised in recent days for developing his all-around game and becoming a better defender, has already redshirted so he would need a medical waiver to be granted an extra season. Right now, he has two additional years of eligibility.
Paul Zeise: email@example.com, 412-263-1720or Twitter: @paulzeise