CHARLOTTE, NC — It’s been five days since Pitt men’s basketball freshman Dior Johnson was arrested.
The 18-year-old – ranked as the 41st-best recruit in the country in the 2022 class by 247sports – was charged with multiple felonies and misdemeanors related to domestic violence. Pitt has suspended him from the program indefinitely.
At the ACC Tip-Off event on Wednesday, Panthers’ head coach Jeff Capel remained tight-lipped on the topic of Johnson and his arrest, despite being asked about it multiple times.
“Well, we don’t know what happened. I don’t get into that. I don’t get into what he was charged with, what an allegation was. Again, I think one of the things that everyone needs to be careful of – myself included – we don’t know. We don’t know what happened. Unfortunately, especially in what we do in sports, guys – people – are assumed guilty without due process. We need to let due process happen.”
Capel added during the press conference availability portion of Wednesday that was shown on the ACC Network: “There’s nothing else that we can say about that – any of us, any guy on the team, myself, anyone associated with our program. We put out a statement, and that’s the statement that we’ll go with. I feel for (Johnson), but we’re good. As a program, we’re good. We’re in a good space. We’re good.”
Johnson is the third Pitt player in the last two years to face charges. In 2021, John Hughley was charged with criminal conspiracy and receiving stolen property, while Ithiel Horton was arrested for allegedly assaulting a police officer. Charges against both players were dropped.
Still, from the outside, it would be reasonable for a casual fan to have concerns about the program with this many run-ins with the law.
Even ACC commissioner Jim Phillips was asked about Johnson on Wednesday.
“We’re always concerned anytime any of those types of situations happen at any of our 15 institutions,” Phillips said. “It’s an institutional matter, and I have great confidence in the leadership at Pittsburgh with President Gallagher and athletic director (Heather) Lyke that they’ll handle the situation appropriately.”
Capel was asked what his message to fans might be.
“I’m not sure I would say much. I can’t control what they think, what’s written, what’s said, what’s talked about,” Capel said. “Unfortunately, there’s some things I can’t comment on. I control what I can control, which is inside of our program. I know what’s going on inside of our program. I can’t control what’s painted by a media member, by a donor, by fan, what’s said or things like that.”
A 6-foot-3 point guard from Castiac, California, Johnson was tabbed as a four-star prospect and was the highest ranked recruit Capel had landed during his five seasons at Pitt. Johnson also had offers from Oregon, Mississippi State, Alabama and Syracuse, and had drawn comparisons to De’Aron Fox.
But Pitt got in pretty late on recruiting him. Johnson had initially committed to Oregon, and then reopened his recruitment early in the summer. By June 13, he was committed to Pitt.
Capel was asked Wednesday if he felt like he “really knew” who Johnson was when he recruited him.
“I don’t think I know who any kid is until they get there with you,” Capel said. “No matter how long you recruit them, you don’t know someone until you’re with them every day. I knew him as much as I could in the time that I had with him.”