UNC Basketball: Roy Williams provides key update on Cam Johnson

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 10: Cameron Johnson
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 10: Cameron Johnson /

An update on UNC forward Cam Johnson and his status for Friday’s NCAA Tournament game

The North Carolina Tar Heels are opening up their title defense as a No. 2 seed in the West Region, taking on No. 15 Lipscomb on Friday. After winning three-straight games in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament, including a second win over Duke, they earned a spot in Charlotte for the first two rounds.

With UNC in Charlotte, they have a good chance of advancing out and into the Sweet 16 for the fourth-straight year.

But their tournament run could depend on the health of a key starter.

During the ACC Tournament, graduate transfer Cameron Johnson fell and landed hard in the loss to Virginia which kept him out for about the final six minutes or so. Johnson previously fell and was landed on in the win over Miami just two nights prior and re-aggravated the injury.

Following Saturday’s loss, Johnson told the media that he was dealing with a back strain and tightness.

On Monday night, Roy Williams provided an update on Johnson saying that he would have “practiced a little bit” if they held one on Monday. Then on Tuesday, Williams provided another update saying that Johnson wouldn’t have been able to play if the game against Lipscomb was today.

The good news for the Tar Heels is that they still have a few days until their opening game against a team that they are heavily-favored over.

Williams could opt to rest Johnson for the first round and prepare him for a second round matchup against Texas A&M or Providence, if UNC gets past Lipscomb.

Johnson did speak to the media during Tuesday’s session, telling reporters that his back is getting better. The important note is that when asked about his status for Friday’s game, Johnson told Inside Carolina that he plans to play.

He used the exact words of: “Yeah, I do.”

Johnson is averaging 12.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game this season after transferring from Pitt. He’s played very well over the last month or so and has been a big reason for the Tar Heels getting that two seed.

Next: NCAA Tournament: West Region

Williams will have to leave this up to the team trainers and doctors as a risk of re-injuring the back and being out long-term does loom.