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Pitt Basketball

Pitt MBB HC Capel, F Hinson and G Burton Speak on the Reinstatement of Dior Johnson

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PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Sports Now’s George Michalowski broke news that Pitt reinstated first-year guard Dior Johnson to practice this week on Wednesday.

Pitt suspended Johnson indefinitely on Oct. 7 after police filed felony domestic abuse charges against him.

Johnson, who is 18-years old, originally faced charges of one felony count of aggravated assault, one felony count of strangulation, one misdemeanor count of unlawful restraint, one misdemeanor count of simple assault and one misdemeanor count of false imprisonment.

The judge for the case dropped four charges, false imprisonment, unlawful restraint, witness intimidation and aggravated assault, but held one charge of simple assault (misdemeanor) and one charge of strangulation (felony) on Oct. 20.

Johnson plead guilty to those two charges on Dec. 9, with the judge lessening the strangulation charge to a misdemeanor ordering Johnson to serve a year of probation.

Panthers head coach Jeff Capel and players in graduate guard Jamarius Burton plus junior forward Blake Hinson spoke to the media at a press conference on Wednesday about reinstating Johnson and what his role is going forward.

Capel confirmed the news that Johnson is back with the team and practicing. He and Athletic Director Heather Lyke spoke with each other and to Johnson. He also said that he spoke with players on the team, their thoughts on everything and made the decision to bring him back.

Capel said that Johnson will redshirt this year and spend time practicing and working on his game the rest of the season. He said that it wasn’t his decision, but that he and Johnson talked about it and agreed it would be the best decision.

“He hasn’t played basketball since October 7th,” Capel said. “It’s very hard when you haven’t played in three months to come back and to be able to play. There’s a process, there’s a ramp-up. Especially when you get to ACC play it gets very hard. You risk injury when you haven’t competed.”

There are two processes according to Capel that he had to go through for this decision: one with the university and one that he and Lyke underwent to speak with Johnson about his future. He kept in contact with Johnson throughout the past two months of his suspension, but nothing dealing with the court case.

Capel and Lyke spoke with Johnson on Monday, Dec. 19, the day before the Syracuse game. They had several conversations about the role he would serve going forward, redshirting and what was best for him.

“Obviously I’m always thinking about our program, but you’ve got a young guy that we’re trying to teach,” Capel said on Johnson. “I still think we’re in the business of teaching, at least that’s why I got into this thing and helping young people and I feel like he’s a kid that we can help and we’re going to try and help him.”

Capel said that Johnson has grown over the past few months and will continue to learn more about himself over the rest of the season and throughout college. He also noted that his teammates play a large role in bringing him back into the sport, but also helping him develop as a person outside of practice too.

“…how I know we can help him, is we have some older guys teaching him how to be a really good teammate,” Capel said. “Teaching him how to work. Teaching him the discipline that it takes to be a good player. Teaching him how to be in college, to be around something and to be part of something.”

Capel said that when he played in college at Duke in the mid 1990s, he had a great support system to help him through his time. This included coaches, teammates including the older guys and former players the helped guide him and prepare him for what he would face on the court and off the court.

He wants, with him from his staff and players, to provide that help for Johnson. Capel acknowledged that Johnson faced scrutiny prior to joining Pitt, even though scouts rated him as a five-star recruit, for transferring so often in high school.

“He’s not a bad kid at all, but learning to be a part of something, learning how to trust, that’s something that he’s gotta go through,” Capel said. “That’s how I know that we can help him. Not just our team, but our university, our athletic department.”

With Johnson returning to practice, Capel said that he brings a great presence that will help his team prepare for future games, starting with North Carolina on Friday, Dec. 30.

“He’s a talented, young guy,” Capel said. “So, right now, we have a really good practice player. A guy that can simulate some really good guards that we’ll play against and give us a really good look. He’s good with the ball. He can shoot it, he can handle it. He has some creativity to him. He’s not afraid and he loves to play basketball. He loves to compete.”

Burton concurred with Capel on what Johnson brings to practice. He also said that Johnson is another player that will improve the team going forward.

“I just feel like it’s good to have everybody back in practice,” Burton said. “More able bodies, you know, we’re able to do more things on the scout, you know, having extra bodies out there, more reps, more opportunities to simulate our opponents. So it’s been good having him back and just try to get better each and every day.”

Burton said that when Johnson returned, he spoke to the locker room. The team had a “family meeting,” where the players put in their input on the situation, what they wanted to do and what was possible the rest of the season.

He also said that losing a teammate is tough, but it isn’t something that players are unfamiliar with at the college level. Burton also saw his former teammate, guard Ithiel Horton, serve a suspension last season for punching a police officer during a dispute.

“I would say nothing’s linear,” Burton said. “There’s always ebbs and flows, things that change, injuries and other things like that that could take away from the whole group being together. During those moments, it’s just next man up. Opportunities for other players as you’ve seen. We just try to get better as a group regardless who’s in the locker room and putting on the jersey.”

Hinson, who is coming off a fantastic game on the road against Syracuse on Dec. 20, which earned him ACC Co-Player of the Week honors, is happy to see Johnson back at practice and with the team.

“Good, it’s good to have everyone back,” Hinson said.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Jane
Jane
28 days ago

There was no way he could of played being on probation… would not be a good l👀k .. best of luck to him

Rob Radich
Rob Radich
28 days ago

Appalling on so many levels. Completely disgusted with my alma mater. Putting athletic talent ahead of character

Eric payne
Eric payne
28 days ago
Reply to  Rob Radich

Everyone makes more sense than you. Even the players. Speaking of character, I would love to meet you and resolved our differences. THUNDERDOME. Two men enter, one man( me naturally ) leaves.

Rob Radich
Rob Radich
28 days ago
Reply to  Eric payne

Ok. Hard guy, Defend a pos and then make grammatically laughable threats. “Resolved”. Troll someone else.

E.a.Payne
E.a.Payne
28 days ago
Reply to  Rob Radich

I was serious

Rob Radich
Rob Radich
28 days ago
Reply to  E.a.Payne

Ok. Well since that isn’t going to happen- here’s a solution, when I post you scroll by and keep your nonsense to yourself, tough guy. “Thunder dome”. Pure middle school.

Last edited 28 days ago by Rob Radich
joe cursi
joe cursi
28 days ago
Reply to  Rob Radich

I teach middle school BTW, and no one knows what “thunderdome” is…

joe cursi
joe cursi
28 days ago
Reply to  Eric payne

Leave RADISH alone!!!

On Campus Stadium Please
On Campus Stadium Please
28 days ago

what a joke, last man on the bench would have been dismissed right away.

Last edited 28 days ago by On Campus Stadium Please
joe cursi
joe cursi
28 days ago

I believe in second chances. I just hope he keeps his nose clean and is willing to stay after we move on from Crapel,

Burton Tee
Burton Tee
28 days ago

“Teaching him how to be in college, to be around something and to be part of something.”

Is Capel this dumb? What an idiotic statement.

Johnson has been “part” of something and playing organized basketball all his life. Just count how many teams he’s been on and I think we can agree that HE is the problem.

Glad to know Lyke is all good with domestic violence.

Disgusting.

I am going to guess that this violent player will not make it through next season.

Dixon
Dixon
27 days ago
Reply to  Burton Tee

I can see that you are displeased, to put it mildly, with Lyke and Capel, but do you really believe that other programs would have done more, as in kicking Johnson off their basketball team.
My opinion, Pitt’s discipline of the kid was equal to or even greater than what he would have received at a hell of a lot of other schools. Could easily see him returning to the court this season at some schools.
Honestly, if you are disgusted with Lyke, you should probably be disgusted with college athletes in general.

Dixon
Dixon
28 days ago

Wow, lots of hostility on here lately, but I’ll add my two-cents anyways.
This kid was suspended from the team until his charges were reduced to misdemeanors. Then it was announced that Johnson, who would have definitely been the starting point guard, is being redshirted, which is just a euphemism for suspended in this case, so he will not play in a single games this season.
Perhaps not harsh enough punishment for some, but if he can avoid trouble, I don’t have a problem with him receiving a second chance and playing next season.

Slick
Slick
27 days ago
Reply to  Dixon

Unfortunately people don’t believe in second chances. They want an 18 yo life to be ruined. These people act like there so perfect and was there non of us really know what happened other than what is told to us on a computer. If he did infact do those things he would be in jail Dior is not the next coming of anything he is a boarderline draft prospect. I agree with what Capel did and if he does indeed screw up again cut the leash. First times can be a mistake second time its on purpose.

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