It's quite the advantage to have not only a brother playing in the NBA but also was a highly regarded student-athlete of the program you'd be attending in the fall. Donovan "Puff" Johnson lucked out with his older brother, Cameron.
"He's embracing that," Cam said. "He's paying attention to the stuff I'm teaching him. I'll pause the game and give him a quiz: 'Why did we do this? What happens here? What was this call? What do you think we're going to do next?' He's picking it up pretty well, and I think that's going to be a good head start for him."
Johnson's time at Carolina lead him to the Phoenix Suns, drafting him at the 11th spot in the 2019 NBA Draft. Upon his departure from the University of Pittsburgh, Johnson graduated with honors three years with a degree in communications. As a transfer at UNC, the Pennsylvania native worked toward's his master's degree in sports administration.
After healing from a torn meniscus, Johnson managed to finish his two seasons with Carolina as the leading scorer recording 16.9 points per game, 5.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists while shooting 48% FG and 41% from behind the arc.
Johnson's achievement as not only a transfer but a fan favorite has led Coach Roy Williams to use his success as a tool on his recruitment visits.
As a younger brother, it will be hard for Puff to dodge the comparisons to his older brother, and maybe that's not such a bad thing. Puff mirrors his older brother but with a longer strider and complete pull-up jumper. In their one on one sessions, the battles can be heated, but when playing for one of the most stringent programs in the country, a little spice is needed.
"Sometimes, the one-on-one games get a little too heated," said Cam, "The last time we played in the driveway, he ended up in the bush with cuts all over his back. … We had to call that one a little short. But we're getting a little better at the not-killing-each-other stage of one-on-one and concentrating on working on stuff."
The Johnson brother's competitive spirit is helping fuel more than bragging rights, it's building up another legacy in Pennsylvania. Puff recognizes that his brother mirrors his future, and if that is to become his reality, he has to listen.
"Of course, every time I play him, I expect to win, and I expect it to be a good game." Puff said, "Just knowing that he's older, and he's there already, that's somewhere I want to go. So I can't be stubborn. I have to be more of a listener and a learner than being hard-headed."
"It's definitely a great experience, seeing what he did there," Puff said. "I have big shoes to fill, but I'm preparing to work as hard as he did and do what coach expects. He's where I want to be, so it's great to play against him, work against him and see how he guards me and see how I'm supposed to guard him and get ready for the ACC."
Puff is apart of UNC's highest-ranking class in eight years - Caleb Love, RJ Davis, Walker Kessler, Day' Ron Sharpe, Kerwin Walton, and Puff Johnson are currently ranked as the No. 3 nationally on ESPN.
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