Girard College junior John Johnson gave an oral commitment yesterday to play basketball at the University of Pittsburgh.

The 6-foot-1 point guard chose the Panthers over St. Joe's, St. John's, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Penn State.

"I think that could be my home away from home," Johnson said. "I like their style of play, and it's not too far from home that my family can't see me play."

Villanova was listed among his top schools in June but the Wildcats stopped recruiting him.

"I think it is a good fit for him," Girard College coach Tyrone Morris said. "John brings all of the intangibles. I think his heart, his fight and him as a whole will fit in at Pittsburgh."

Johnson started leaning heavily toward Pittsburgh while on an unofficial visit to the campus last month. He thought about making a commitment a couple of days later, but decided to keep his options open.

But Johnson made his decision yesterday, a day after Pitt assistants attended a Girard College open gym.

"When Pitt started [recruiting him], you just saw his whole personality change," Morris said.

The 16-year-old is a good long-range shooter and has a great burst off the dribble. His quickness and playmaking ability make him a good fit.

The two-time Associated Press Class A all-state performer led the Cavaliers to their first PIAA Class A state title last season. Johnson averaged 21.3 points, 5.5 assists and 3.4 steals en route to garnering third-team all-Southeastern Pennsylvania.

"I felt like I was already on the team," Johnson said of Pitt. "They didn't fill my head up with dreams like you are going to be this and that. They told me I have to work for what I want. That's what I wanted to hear."

Two of his best performances came in the state playoffs.

Johnson finished with 37 points, five steals, and four assists despite sitting out most of the fourth quarter of an 86-51 semifinal victory over the Scotland School.

Then, in Girard's 80-70 state final win over Kennedy Catholic, he shot 11 of 18 from the field to score 30 points. He also finished with seven steals and four assists.

Contact staff writer Keith Pompey at 610-313-8029 or