UNC Basketball: Cameron Johnson returning to North Carolina?

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

Cam Johnson eyeing return to UNC in 2018?

Last season, the University of North Carolina men’s basketball program welcomed in former Pittsburgh player and graduate transfer Cameron Johnson.

Johnson’s transition to North Carolina was a success, and he quickly became a fan favorite in Chapel Hill. Poised to join the Tar Heels’ starting lineup prior to the regular season, a tear in Johnson’s left meniscus sidelined him until the team’s December 20th game against Wofford.

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Upon his return, Johnson immediately became an important piece of the North Carolina rotation. His impact on the offensive end of the court, in particular, was invaluable for the Tar Heels throughout the season.

He averaged 12.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists on the season, playing 29.3 minutes per game. Johnson connected on better than 34 percent of his three-point attempts, and knocked down almost 85 percent of his free throws. The highlight of his season came in a 32-point outburst against Clemson in which he hit 10-of-18 shots from the floor and 6-of-10 from beyond the arc.

Moments after the Tar Heels’ second round loss to Texas A&M in the NCAA Tournament, questions immediately began to swirl about Johnson’s intentions for next season. Would he return to UNC to use his final year of eligibility, or would he take his chances in the 2018 NBA Draft?

North Carolina fans are, of course, eager for Johnson to return to campus for another run at a national championship. With Johnson alongside seniors Kenny Williams and Luke Maye, and a terrific incoming freshman class that includes five-star commits Nassir Little and Coby White, the Tar Heels would be considered a title contender when the season begins in November.

While Johnson is yet to make an official announcement, he may have tipped his hand in a recent interview with Craig Meyer of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

"“We all have a common goal and that’s the biggest one that pushes us — making it to the national championship,” Johnson said. “I haven’t been to one. I have one more year of eligibility. With that one year, I want nothing more than to win a national championship.”"

The 6-foot-8, 210-pound Johnson appears to have a pretty defined goal for next season, and that includes being in a UNC jersey. There’s no doubt that his presence on the team next season would give the Tar Heels a marked advantage over a unit that doesn’t include him.

Johnson will have to declare for the draft before the NBA early entry eligibility deadline on April 22nd. If he does happen to declare for the draft without hiring an agent, he would have until June 11th to withdraw his name and return to college.

Next: Tar Heels set to visit Las Vegas in 2018

Stick with Keeping It Heel in the coming weeks for more on Johnson and the Tar Heels.