The Portland Pilots men’s basketball team will look a lot different next season. On Monday, sophomore guard Jazz Johnson and freshman guard Andre Ferguson both announced that they were leaving the team and had gotten their release forms. Three other players are expected to follow suit.
These changes come after a particularly rough season for the Pilots. The team finished Terry Porter’s inaugural season with a disappointing record of 11-22 and tied the program’s longest losing streak in 28 years by dropping 14 games straight.
“I was always kind of thinking about it during our little losing streak,” Johnson told The Beacon. “It was in the back of my head and it would be in the back of any players’ mind when you lose 14 games in a row. But my decision really came this past week when I was thinking about it and when I was thinking about other schools that could use a person like me.”
Losing Johnson will be a blow to the Pilots’ offense. The sophomore appeared in all 33 games this season and stayed on the floor an average of 34 minutes per night. He finished the season as the team’s second leading scorer with 15.8 points per game and shot 82 percent from the free throw line.
Because Johnson just got his release on Monday, he hasn’t contacted any coaches yet and does not know where he is going to transfer to yet, but he is certain he will land at another Division I school.
“I wouldn’t leave this situation – because it wasn’t like this situation was so bad – I wouldn’t leave a full ride D-I scholarship and go down,” Johnson said. “If anything, I want to stay at the same caliber or move up if I can.”
Ferguson, who averaged 2.5 points per game this season and took on a starting role after senior guard Alec Wintering suffered a season ending ACL tear, said the decision for him to transfer was mutual: the coaching staff no longer thought he was a good fit for the program and he wanted to take a step back.
“I think it was clear, even from the conversations I had (with the coaches) during season, that the fit wasn’t going great,” Ferguson said. “It was something we were trying to work on and change, but there were certain things that we couldn’t figure out. No side was wrong or right but it just wasn’t working. And that happens. You aren’t going to hit it off every single time.”
Ferguson says that he thinks he will go the junior college route after transferring from UP.
“I just want everybody to know that it’s nothing against the coaching staff, nothing against one individual, the administration, the student body or the school. This was just a decision I made on my own with my family to further my career. I don’t want to leave here with any ill-hearted feelings. I love this school, it just didn’t work out.”
Portland will also be losing three graduating seniors: Alec Wintering, Ray Barreno and Jarrel Marshall.