Johnson becomes first Washington player to transfer since the season ended, but he may not be the last.
The Washington men’s basketball team’s offseason makeover officially began Tuesday when the team announced Carlos Johnson is transferring to play at another school.
“Carlos has been an integral part of our program while also showing excellent leadership,” coach Mike Hopkins said in statement released by UW. “We wish him the best of luck and know he will also be part of the Husky family.”
Johnson a 6-foot-3 sophomore guard played in every game while making four starts and averaging 17.9 minutes, 5.9 points and 3.0 rebounds during the 2016-17 season.
However, he struggled to find a role this season with Hopkins at the helm.
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Johnson played in the first eight games before sitting out four of the next seven contests. He didn’t play in three straight games before coming off the bench and being the catalyst in a 70-65 win at Washington State on Jan. 6. Johnson scored a season-high tying 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting in 14 minutes against the Cougars.
“He was the Human Defibrillator tonight,” Hopkins said after WSU game. “I got to give him a lot of credit. He’s a guy who hadn’t played in five, whatever how many games. And he’s been an incredible leader. He’s come to practice every day and he’s been encouraging. He’s been unbelievable on the bench. And he got an opportunity tonight and he seized it.”
It seemed as if the WSU game might be a breakout moment for Johnson, but he appeared in just five of the remaining 17 games and never played more than four minutes.
Despite his limited production on the court this season, Johnson biggest impact may have been on the sidelines. UW assistant Will Conroy credited him with starting a pregame routine in which players and a few assistants on the bench lock arm and roll side to side in their seats.
“He just started it, I want to say before that big win at Kansas,” Conroy said. “He started rolling, then we all started doing it. … That shows me these kids are taking ownership of the culture and that’s what you want.
“You wish he was making the same impact on the court because you see how hard he works and how much he puts into it, but to his credit he brings energy and effort every time he’s out there.”
Johnson, a Centralia, Ill. native, played high basketball in Phoenix, El Cerrito, Calif. and Henderson, NV before joining Washington in 2016 after the Huskies lost Dejounte Murray and Marquese Chriss. Johnson was a two-star recruit who arrived weighing 250 pounds before shedding 30 during summer workouts.
Despite Johnson’s relative short stature, former UW coach Lorenzo Romar played him at forward where he started the final four games of the 2016-17 season. His best outing came as a backup when he finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds in 35 minutes – all career highs – during an 83-81 loss to Arizona State on Feb. 16, 2017.
It’s not immediately known where Johnson will transfer, but he’s restricted from joining a Pac-12 team. He’ll have to sit out next season and will have two years of eligibility remaining. One possible destination is Pepperdine, which recently hired Romar.
In addition to Johnson, Washington loses senior backup guard Dan Kingma.
Meanwhile, 10 scholarship players have eligibility next season. UW signed three recruits (Jamal Bey, Elijah Hardy and Nate Roberts) during the early-signing period and secured verbal commitments from prospects Bryan Penn-Johnson and Ed Chang. One or two players may reclassify to the 2019 class.
Assuming the Huskies bring in a five-man recruiting class, they’ll have to continue restructuring the roster to comply with the NCAA limit of 13 scholarship players. Quite possibly, sophomore guard Bitumba Baruti, who did not play this season, will be the next Husky to transfer.