South Carolina coach Frank Martin has taken another step toward replacing point guard Bruce Ellington, who will be a senior next season.
Point guard Ty Johnson transferred out of Villanova after the first semester and will join USC, according to CBSSports.com. Because Johnson is a mid-year transfer into USC, he will be eligible at the midpoint of next season after sitting out the time required by NCAA transfer rules.
Johnson, who would have been a sophomore this season, decided before the beginning of the season that he was going to transfer. He will be a redshirt sophomore when he debuts for USC next season. As a freshman in 2011-12, he played in 32 games and started nine times, averaging 3.3 points and dishing out 65 assists while playing 17.7 minutes per game.
Martin already has three recruits committed for 2013: shooting guard Justin McKie, wing player Sindarius Thornwell (the No. 43 overall recruit in his class, according to Rivals) and center Desmond Ringer. Martin tried to solidify his backcourt in the Class of 2012, but 6-5 wing Thaddeus Hall and point guard Tarik Phillip did not academically qualify, leaving Martin with two larger wings (6-6 Michael Carrera and 6-7 Mindaugas Kacinas) and 6-10 power forward Laimonas Chatkevicius in the class.
Johnson was a highly regarded recruit coming out of high school – No. 52 overall and No. 11 among point guards, according to Rivals.com. At 6-3, he has good size for a point guard. He is originally from Plainfield, N.J., and played his senior year of high school at Montrose Christian School in Rockville, Md. – a high school basketball powerhouse. Carrera also played at Montrose.
USC has three guards – Brian Richardson, Eric Smith and Brenton Williams – who will be seniors next season, along with Ellington. Current starting shooting guard LaShay Page is a senior. He transferred from Southern Mississippi this season to join the three freshmen as Martin’s first group of newcomers. Smith has been starting at point guard as Ellington transitions from football.
Because Ellington is on a football scholarship and Hall and Phillip didn’t get into school, USC currently has 11 scholarship players, two shy of the NCAA maximum. USC will lose at least Page and Lakeem Jackson from this year’s team, as both are seniors, meaning Martin had four slots to fill for 2013. All four are now filled with McKie, Thornwell, Ringer and Johnson.
More slots could become available if players decide to leave with eligibility remaining.