Durand Johnson was forced to take a redshirt last year because of numbers. Therefore, he will push for whatever minutes he can get at the two or three this year.
Based on experience, J.J. Moore would be an early favorite to win a starting job there, pending his health is in good standing. Moore has been sitting out of this summer's Pro-Am league, resting a foot injury. Competition for minutes behind Moore might be one of the more open spots on the team. A lot depends on what is going to happen to the positions in the post. Durand Johnson is looking like someone who at least deserves a shot.
"I normally played the two, but the two or three, it really doesn't matter," Johnson said. "Wherever Coach Dixon needs me. I just want to play. I just want to compete."
Of any player on Pitt's team, Johnson has progressed the most from start to finish in this summer league. Take a look at Johnson's numbers over the course of a month:
June 18 - 6-21 from the field, 1-3 from 3-point, 1-2 FT; 14 pts, 3 reb, 2 a
June 20 - 5-15 from the field, 3-8 from 3-point, 2-4 FT; 15 pts, 4 reb, 2 a
June 27 - 7-18 from the field, 3-6 from 3-point, 6-10 FT; 23 pts, 6 reb, 0 a
July 9 - 8-19 from the field, 0-7 from 3-point, 2-6 FT; 18 pts, 5 reb, 6 a
July 11 - 9-25 from the field, 3-10 from 3-point, 0-1 FT; 21 pts, 8 reb, 3 a
July 16 - 13-27 from the field, 4-9 from 3-point, 4-6 FT; 34 pts, 6 reb, 4 a
Johnson was especially impressive with a pair of explosive dunks--displaying quick hands, and quickly getting to the rim before anyone had a chance to defend him, or take away his space.
"It actually has been a part of my game," Johnson said of his dunking ability. "I just like to bring it up sometimes. I felt like that was a great opportunity to do so.
"This summer, it's just been good to get up and down and showcase that I can play this well. I really feel this summer helped on all those things, and hopefully building on to it and getting ready for the season."
Asked what's helped him the most with his progression this offseason--specifically the summer conditioning combined with playing in the Pro-Am league.
"I actually get it from Lamar (Patterson)'," Johnson said. "Lamar will say, 'go at them.' Same thing with Donte (Taylor), Tray (Woodall). It's like a big family. Those guys see potential, they just want to get it out of me. Thats how it is with every player, one through fifteen. It's the whole group. It's a bunch of us guys looking out for each other and try to win this season."
Johnson is not going to stop there. He's already identified the area he wants to focus on between now and the start of regular season practices in October.
"Ball handling," Johnson said would be priority number-one. "I definitely want to get better with the ball handling, get it down pat. I would say that would be first on my list. Next would be my shot selection.
"I just try to be an all-around player. That's what my dad told me, 'you have to be an all-around player.' Don't just shoot, you have to get to the hole and get guys involved. That's my mindset right now. That's what I'm going to come out here and do."