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Q&A with Incoming UNC Basketball Transfer Cameron Johnson

With his recruitment and waiver battle behind him, Cameron Johnson talked with Inside Carolina about his graduate transfer process, his college career so far, and how he's working to become a better player at North Carolina.

Are you happy to have the decision, and your release, behind you?

It feels good. Now I just get to get to work, head down there soon and get ready for the season. Some former players reached out and congratulated me, and that's always appreciated. I can already tell it really is a Carolina family, just the culture and tradition of it is so strong that you can just kind of feel it.

When do you plan to head down to Chapel Hill?

I'm going to try to get down there around this weekend or next Monday or so. I've got some stuff to finish up at home, and then hopefully I can get there this weekend.

What was Roy Williams's reaction when you committed, and what was your reaction when Pitt granted your full release?

Coach Williams was excited when I told him. He expressed his excitement pretty well. His excitement got me even more excited. He was yelling a little bit actually. He was excited for sure. When Pitt called me and told me I was being released, I let out a sigh of relief and just thanked God, honestly. The longer this dragged on, the more annoying the process was getting for both sides. I didn't want to attract a lot of media attention, I didn't want anything to be loud and flamboyant about off-the-court issues. I was really thankful that Pitt allowed me to do this. I'm thankful to the University for everything it's done for me the last three years. I honestly was just thanking God, and have been since.

What number do you plan to wear at UNC?

The decision is being made. The number selection is very limited, so I might go with No. 13, but I might go No. 14. It's probably between those two. 

How are you preparing for your role - helping to replace Justin Jackson - at UNC?

It's the same thing I've always done. You have to keep working and keep developing. I think the rest of the summer is big for me as far as overall development. My goal is to get in there, gel with the guys and try to bring a couple extra dimensions to the team. I like the guys and I enjoyed playing with them when I was down there, so I think we'll make it work. (When I was down there) it was Joel (Berry), Theo (Pinson), myself, Luke (Maye) and Brob (Brandon Robinson) on the same team. It was good, especially because I hadn't played in quite a while. It felt good to just play again, and then playing with those guys I enjoyed it. I think I'll enjoy it as we move towards the season.

What areas of your game do you need improve before the season starts?

I think just overall, physically, is what I'm spending the most time on. In my time at home, I've been working on specific skill and basketball stuff in terms of developing different aspects of my game. I'd say physical improvement is one thing I'm definitely looking to improve upon. I've been doing a lot of off-the-bounce stuff, really working on that. Getting to my spot on a pull-up, taking any defender - bigger, smaller, faster, slower - just a lot of work with that. I've been trying to get better coming off on-ball and off-ball screens. If you don't work on those constantly, that skill can go away. Really, I've just been trying to push forward.

Does UNC's style of play present a conditioning challenge?

When we played them, they have you running a lot and you can tell it's tiring. Playing North Carolina will give you a workout. It's conditioning. No matter how much you do, it's going to be hard. I've gone through some pretty rough conditioning days in my time. Obviously, it's going to be difficult and I'm sure North Carolina really hits you hard. I'm looking forward to playing in that kind of style, looking forward to getting myself in the right shape to play in that style. It's part of the deal and that's another thing I'm really excited about.

How would you assess your defensive ability at Pitt? And how can it improve at Carolina?

I've been up and down defensively, I'll be honest. It's just a matter of getting myself in the right position most of the time. Once I'm comfortable in that, whenever the light defensively clicks in my head, then I'm fine. I don't know if I have a grade for it over the course of my career, I just do my best. I take pride in off-ball defense just as much, being in the right spot and maybe coming up with a steal or two. Defense is something that I'll hopefully continue to improve upon, because I've improved on that tenfold since I started my college career. It's developing just as the other parts of my game are developing. I'm looking forward to taking more steps forward, maybe, than ever before.

Would you be comfortable playing the '4' in a small lineup?

Wherever Coach Williams decides to play me, I'll feel excited and comfortable about. Just watching him over the years and playing against, even without playing for him yet, I trust him. I trust that he'll put his players in the right position that suits them. If I have to play a small-ball '4,' if i have to play a '2,' or a '3,' I'd be fine with any of those. I played across the board at Pitt, but mostly on the lower end. I don't think I played the '4' at Pitt at all really. I was between the '2' and the '3' the most. Wherever coach puts me, I'll be fine with it.

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