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South suburban native Brandon Johnson transfers from Minnesota to DePaul

The athletic, blue-collar 6-8 forward is heading to DePaul to play for first-year coach Tony Stubblefield next season.

Minnesota’s Brandon Johnson (23) dunks against Northwestern’s Ryan Young (15) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Big Ten Conference tournament.
Minnesota’s Brandon Johnson (23) dunks against Northwestern’s Ryan Young (15) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Big Ten Conference tournament.
AP Photos

Even while living his boyhood dream of playing Division I basketball, first at Western Michigan and then last year at Minnesota, Brandon Johnson admits he would often miss home.

With one year of college basketball left to be played, the former TF South star is coming back home to play. The athletic, blue-collar 6-8 forward is heading to DePaul to play for first-year coach Tony Stubblefield next season.

“It’s a breath of fresh air for me,” said Johnson of the move back to Chicago. “There is no place like home. Basketball has been able to take me a lot of places, but to be surrounded by loved ones while playing this last year? This is the best opportunity for me.”

After putting up numbers in three seasons at Western Michigan and then one year as a Big Ten starter at Minnesota, Johnson said the new DePaul staff hit a home run with its messaging. The conversations in the recruiting pitch went beyond basketball.

“They really pushed me to think about things after basketball,” said Johnson. “Their focus on my life, starting with this Masters program, really stood out to me. When you include all of that, DePaul checked off every box for me.”

Johnson averaged 8.9 points and 6.3 rebounds a game for the Golden Gophers a year ago. Prior to his transfer to Minnesota he put up 15.4 points and 8.1 rebounds a game in his third season at Western Michigan. He scored 1,000-plus career points in three years for the Broncos.

The highlight for Johnson last year was a monster performance in an upset win over Iowa. He scored 26 points and hauled in nine rebounds in the win while knocking down eight three-pointers.

He believes he can set a tone for the program. He offers a ton of experience as a seasoned veteran –– he has already started 116 college games in his career –– while bringing a mature approach.

“My first goal is to be a leader and to try and take them where they haven’t been recently,” said Johnson. “Each day I treat like it’s work, a day on the job. I will work hard, leave 100 percent on the floor. I want to show others how hard we need to work, to set an example.”

Johnson joins a revamped roster for the Blue Demons. Stubblefield has already added Oregon transfer Jalen Terry who was a four-star recruit coming out of high school. Kansas transfer Tyon Grant-Foster, a promising 6-7 wing, joins the mix, along with 6-7 Philmon Gebrewhit of South Plains Community College in Texas.

“It’s time to get the DePaul name out there again and to get kids in the Chicago area to stay home,” said Johnson.