Pitt guard Xavier Johnson broke a 34-year-old record last Wednesday when the eclipsed Charles Smith as the highest-scoring freshman in Pitt history.
It was a record that stood throughout the greatest heights Pitt basketball has ever seen, and Johnson felled it with at least five games left to play in his first season in blue and gold.
It’s been an impressive debut all around for Johnson, who was the least heralded of Pitt’s three freshman by recruiting services, but has turned into one of the most productive guards in the ACC, freshman or otherwise.
But the celebration surrounding his accomplishment has been somewhat muted by the Panthers’ current 10-game losing streak. Johnson said to Pittsburgh Sports Now that it was tough feel celebratory after a loss.
“I’m proud, but at the same time, I’m really not happy, because we’re not winning,” Johnson said.’
But it’s still an extremely impressive accomplishment. Pitt has had dozens of talented freshmen come through campus since Smith, from Sean Miller to DeJuan Blair to Steven Adams, and none of them were able to top Smith’s total, despite have the advantage of a 3-point line, a shot clock and in some cases, playing as many as a dozen more games.
The fact that Johnson was the one that was able to break the record should give Pitt fans plenty of hope, despite the team’s lack of recent success in the win-loss column.
But Johnson’s success goes further than that. For the above stated reasons, it’s tough to compare what Johnson has done directly to Smith’s 1984-85 campaign.
But Pitt has had plenty of modern-era freshman guards to compare Johnson’s season to, and he does just as well in those comparisons.
Here’s every Pitt point guard that was a regular starter since the advent of the 3-point line and shot clock, with their numbers adjusted for their average minutes per game.
Johnson is the most prolific scorer by an enormous margin, besting second-place Marcus Carr by 157 percent.
Pitt may be struggling, but the play of the Panthers’ lead guard is an enormous reason for Panthers fans to continue to feel optimistic.