NEW ORLEANS — This was much more like how Cameron Johnson thought playing in a Tar Heel uniform would be like.
After his debut as a North Carolina basketball player was spoiled by an upset loss handed by the visiting Wofford Terriers, the graduate transfer from Pittsburgh showed in his second game of the year how much he can help UNC.
Johnson, whose season was delayed because of a torn meniscus in his left knee, scored 14 points off the bench in the Tar Heels’ 86-72 win over Ohio State in the CBS Sports Classic. In doing so, he illustrated how valuable he can be to this year’s team.
“I was looking forward to this game ever since I stepped off that court on Wednesday,” Johnson said. “I really just wanted to get back into the win column. That game did not sit well with me for the past couple of days, and I’ve experienced some disappointing moments in sports throughout my 21 years of life, so I tried to manage that as best I could and direct that energy into today’s game.”
In the loss to Wofford, Johnson played 17 minutes, although head coach Roy Williams had initially intended to limit the 6-foot-8 forward to no more than 10 minutes. Against the Buckeyes, Johnson, who is still working on getting back into game shape, saw the floor for 23 minutes and took advantage of his extra playing time.
Instructed to get off the bench and head into the game less than four minutes after the opening tip, Johnson connected on his first three shots from the field, making an instant impact.
“Cam’s a great player and he’s a great shooter and you leave him open, more than likely he’s going to knock down the shot,” Joel Berry II said of Johnson.