Nigel Johnson is returning home to finish out his collegiate career.
The Ashburn (VA) native announced that he will use his final year of eligibility at the University of Virginia. The 6’1”, 185-pound guard graduates from Rutgers this spring, so he will be eligible to play for the Cavaliers in the 2017/2018 season.
In addition to Virginia, Johnson considered Colorado, Nevada and NC State. He made his commitment while in Charlottesville on a visit, the only college visit he made since announcing his intention to transfer.
“I always had a relationship with the coaches at Virginia since high school,” Johnson wrote in a Twitter direct message. He attended Broad Run High School in Ashburn but finished his high school career at Riverdale Baptist in Maryland.
“As soon as they got wind that I was transferring they started calling me, made a visit to my house to talk to my parents and then came to see me at school. Them doing that showed me how bad they wanted me, so that was key for me. Also I like the fact that I’ll be playing for my home state school and have a great chance to go far in the tournament.”
Getting graduate a degree from UVA “means a lot,” Johnson wrote. “UVA is one of the best schools in the country.”
UVA will be Johnson’s third collegiate stop. He attended Kansas State his first two years before transferring to Rutgers, where he sat out the 2015/2016 season before playing this past year. As a redshirt junior Johnson averaged 11.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1.4 turnovers and 1.2 steals per game for the Scarlet Knights, making 37.7% of his field goals including 35% from 3-point range.
Tony Bennett’s 2017/2018 Cavalier squad now projects to have 10 scholarship players. Johnson will join rising sophomores Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy in the backcourt. Virginia will also feature scholarship wing players Devon Hall (SR), De’Andre Hunter (RS FR) and Marco Anthony (FR), and posts Isaiah Wilkins (SR), Jack Salt (RS JR), Mamadi Diakite (RS SOPH) and Jay Huff (RS FR).
Johnson says he and Hall, who will both be redshirt seniors next year, have been friends since age 13. On his visit he also spoke with Guy, Wilkins, Jerome and Salt. The initial chemistry was good.
“I think I’ll instantly have a good relationship with everybody,” Johnson wrote.
As a redshirt senior “I like the opportunity I have in front of me,” Johnson wrote. “The opportunity to play a major role and be a leader.”
Offensively and defensively, what will the standout guard expect to bring to the team next season?
“A versatile scorer, ballhandler, playmaker for others and for myself, and on-ball defender that can disrupt the other team’s offense,” Johnson answered.