Transfer Spotlight of the Day: Puff Johnson

Story posted August 9, 2023 in CommRadio, Sports by Thomas English

Penn State had a strong start to the offseason with a few transfer recruits already, but the commitment of former UNC forward Puff Johnson was a major victory.

Donovan “Puff” Johnson, received interest from Penn State as a four-star high school recruit, but never received an offer from the program.

The second time around, Penn State offered Johnson and he committed to the Nittany Lions as a four-star transfer and 132nd-best overall transfer per 247Sports.

A Moon Township, Pa., native, Johnson returns to his home state after three seasons at North Carolina and a National Championship appearance in 2022.

Johnson appeared in 68 games in three seasons with the program and contributed 11 points and six rebounds in the title game.

He was an ESPN Top 100 recruit, a consensus four-star recruit in the 2020 class and the 2019 Pennsylvania Class 5A Player of the Year.

His high school career is impressive as he spent three years at Moon Area High School before transferring to Hillcrest Prep for his final year.

In his high school career, Johnson led his teams to a 103-19 record and scored 1,960 points. He was awarded All-State honors twice and All-Section honors three times while at Moon Area High School.

In 2019, he averaged 22.1 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks per game while leading his team to a PIAA Class 5A championship.

Johnson held a multitude of Power Five offers after averaging 14.4 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game while shooting 44.6% from three at Hillcrest Prep.

ESPN’s No. 60 ranked recruit in 2020 elected to commit to North Carolina, the alma mater of his older brother and current Brooklyn Nets forward Cam Johnson.

His freshman year at UNC did not go as planned and he played in just 14 games before missing the final 15 games of the season due to injury.

Behind talented forwards like Leaky Black, Armando Bacot and Brady Manek, Johnson never cracked the starting lineup but played a key role in the title run for the Tar Heels in 2021-22.

Johnson saw an increase in action as a junior this past season, making two starts and playing in 27 games where he was the leading scorer off the bench at 4.1 points per game.

While Johnson’s career at North Carolina seems underwhelming, he now gets an opportunity to be one of the primary scorers for Penn State.

His 6-foot-8-inch frame makes him a great perimeter defender and an excellent shooter even when contested.

The chances and touches for Johnson are there for the taking for him this season and fans should be excited to see the rate at which he can score and shoot the basketball.

Johnson will look to improve his game and his numbers under Rhoades and continue his journey to join his brother in the NBA.

Thomas English is a second-year broadcast journalism major. To contact him, email