Johnson leaves Purdue to return home

Anthony Johnson made his decision official on Monday, telling head coach Matt Painter he would leave the Purdue program. The sophomore will return home to Chicago in order to be closer to his grandmother, who became ill recently.

When Anthony Johnson met with Matt Painter, he already had his future plans in place.

Toward the end of the regular season, Johnson learned his grandmother had become ill. He decided it would be best to leave Purdue and return home in order to be closer to the woman who raised him.

"That was always on my mind," Johnson said by telephone on Thursday. "I knew I need to be closer to her."

Since the season concluded, Johnson has traveled to Chicago on weekends to visit with his grandmother. He will finish the semester at Purdue in order to gain college credits.

Johnson made his intention to transfer official on Monday when he spoke with the Purdue coaching staff. Painter was understanding of the situation.

"Coach Painter is a good guy," Johnson said. "He's an upfront guy and very understanding. He's a good guy and I respect him a lot."

Johnson declined to list his potential college options, but being closer to Chicago remains his top priority. He has two years of eligibility remaining.

The end of the Boilermakers' disappointing season saw three players leave the program. Along with Johnson, sophomore forward Jacob Lawson and senior Sandi Marcius opted to leave Purdue. Both were released from their scholarships late last week.

"I didn't understand their full situation—whether they had to leave or not," Johnson said of the two other departures. "I was surprised that they both left, but that's their decision and I respect their decision. … They're my teammates and I care about both of them."

Since the news of Purdue's three three transfers became official, many have speculated the moves were made to cleanse the team's culture. Johnson downplayed the idea that he and his teammates weren't willing to work.

"All my teammates, they worked hard," Johnson said. "I worked hard, myself. We all wanted to get better. It was a tough season for us. But when we were struggling as a team, people are going to have their opinions."

As a Boilermaker, Johnson never seemed to settle in. He played in 68 games after redshirting his first season, and averaged just 5.2 points per game. He was a standout at Chicago's Whitney Young High School, but never became an impact player at Purdue.

With the departure of Johnson, Lawson and Marcius, Purdue must fill its open scholarships. According to a source, the Boilermakers are actively seeking a fifth-year graduate transfer who could play immediately next season. Purdue will also welcome in three freshmen to the program.

Johnson won't be a part of Purdue's future, but believes it will have success moving forward.

"Coach Painter and his great coaching staff, I never doubted them once," he said. "As far as where the program is heading, they've got a bright future. They're going to be very young. They're talented, going to work hard and listen. Purdue has a bright future ahead of them. I have much respect for the program."

Chris Emma has covered recruiting, college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports Next since 2009. Emma covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Northwestern Wildcats, and currently covers the Purdue Boilermakers. A Chicago native, he resides in West Lafayette.
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