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Cameron Johnson leaving Pitt as grad transfer; Could Kentucky Basketball pursue?

A shooter with family ties to Calipari makes this a situation to keep an eye on.

NCAA Basketball: Pittsburgh at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Kentucky Wildcats are eying several guards to finish off their 2017 class. Perhaps they’ll look to the graduate transfer market as well, if the right option arises that is.

After all, John Calipari has made it clear he’s not a fan of graduate transfers, but more so because he hates seeing mid-major schools have their best players poached by major programs.

The best example of this is at Drexel, where former Calipari assistant Bruiser Flint was just fired. That may have not happened had Flint had not lost his best player, Damion Lee, as a graduate transfer to Louisville in the 2015-16 season.

Calipari hates seeing that happen to small schools and their coaches, and it sounds like he wants no part of it going forward.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean Calipari won’t take a grad transfer from a major program. An example of this could be in Pittsburgh redshirt sophomore Cameron Johnson, who will graduate and transfer out of Pitt following the spring semester, the school announced Saturday.

The Moon Township, Pa., native will earn his degree in three years at Pitt and have two seasons of eligibility remaining after receiving a medical redshirt for the 2014-15 season.

If that town sounds familiar, it’s because Johnson is from Calipari’s hometown of Moon Township.

There’s also a family connection with Cameron’s father, Gilbert Johnson, having played basketball at Pitt from 1988-90. Calipari was an assistant at Pitt from 1985-88, so he likely had a relationship with Gilbert from recruiting him.

Johnson averaged 11.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game a year ago as the Panthers finished 16-17 overall in the first year of Kevin Stallings. Johnson finished fifth in the ACC in three-point percentage (.415) and eighth in three-point field goals (2.36 per game).

In case you weren’t paying attention, shooters are what Kentucky desperately need for next season with Malik Monk, De’Aaron Fox, Derek Willis, Dominique Hawkins and Mychal Mulder all leaving.

And at 6-8, 210 pounds, Johnson could play either the 2 or 3 spot while also getting spot duty at the 4 with a small-ball lineup.

All said, Calipari may still steer clear of grad transfers, even guys in Johnson’s case. The only grad transfer Calipari has ever taken is Julius Mays from Wright State in 2012. But that wasn’t a situation where Kentucky recruited Mays right out of the gate as much as he reached out to Kentucky.

“(Mays) really wanted to come to Kentucky,” Calipari said in a recent interview. “And I’m happy that we took him because he is one of the greatest kids I’ve ever coached, and he gave us a veteran guard.”

Perhaps Calipari will stand pat with what he has and let guys like Johnson make the call if they want to come to Kentucky. Until then, we can only speculate as to what the 2017-18 Wildcats will look like, but they sure could use some veteran depth.