What Auburn basketball is getting in UAH transfer Chaney Johnson
Here's a deep dive on the Tigers' newest addition — an athletic wing from D-II who looks *very* comparable to a recent fan favorite.
Auburn basketball is in a very fluid situation when it comes to its forward spots for the upcoming season.
Allen Flanigan and Jaylin Williams started the majority of the Tigers’ games at the 3 and the 4, respectively, last season as fourth-year seniors. Flanigan and Williams both have the ability to come back to campus for a fifth season, as they played during the COVID-affected 2020-21 campaign.
A few days ago, Williams announced that he would enter the NBA Draft while maintaining his college eligibility — a common practice for prospects who don’t have a clear-cut first-round grade, and one that Auburn has become very familiar with over the last few seasons. (Starting center Johni Broome has done the same.)
But Flanigan hasn’t made any such announcement, and the current expectation is that he won’t be back on the Plains for a fifth season. His father, Wes Flanigan, just left Bruce Pearl’s bench to become an assistant for Chris Beard again at Ole Miss. The younger Flanigan was initially left off of an updated 2023-24 roster on Auburn’s website earlier this month but was later added back.
With the possibility that Auburn could lose Flanigan, Williams or even both veterans, Pearl and his staff have had to work hard in the transfer portal at forward. That process truly started after Yohan Traore left Auburn after not making much of an impact in his true freshman season, and Chance Westry decided to enter the portal after injuries limited his own debut campaign. (The former 5-star Traore is now at UC-Santa Barbara, while Westry landed at Syracuse.)
Chris Moore should bring Auburn some value at either the small forward (3) or power forward (4) spots next season, as he’s played both in his career. But the Tigers had to bring in new talents — plural — and they’re currently in the hunt for former 5-star Matthew Cleveland from Florida State.
Auburn didn’t have to go far to get its first forward in the portal this offseason, as UAH (Alabama-Huntsville) transfer Chaney Johnson both committed and signed last Friday after an official visit to the Plains.
“Chaney’s journey is the perfect example of the great American dream,” Pearl said in a press release announcing Johnson’s signing. “He graduates from Thompson High School, goes to UAH to play for John Shulman, grows four inches, leads his team to a conference championship, becomes (conference) player of the year in three years, and now, has the opportunity to play at Auburn in the SEC. Chaney’s hard work, dedication, length and athleticism, have enabled him to become quite the talent.
“He will have the opportunity to impact our team right away. Auburn Basketball just got better.”
Johnson is listed at 6-foot-7 and 215 pounds. He will have two seasons of eligibility remaining after playing three seasons at UAH, a Division II program.
Pearl — who got his head coaching career started at the Division II level — was already familiar with Johnson before he entered the portal. Johnson led UAH with 14 points and five rebounds in Auburn’s exhibition game last November, outscoring everybody on the Tigers not named Williams.
Johnson’s solid night against a Division I program set the tone for what would be a massive junior season with the Chargers. The Alabama native was named the Gulf South Conference Player of the Year after averaging 15.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game and leading UAH to the Sweet 16.
Now Johnson will make the jump from Division II to one of the best conferences in Division I.
On Monday’s Observer podcast, Dan made the point that signing a Division II transfer can be a lot like signing a player from junior college. Both types of transfers aren’t elite, highly touted recruits — but they aren’t coming straight out of high school ball, either. They’ve gained years of experience playing at a different level.
And that’s fitting, because if you watch what Johnson did at UAH, it’s hard not to think about the last impact player Auburn basketball landed from the smaller-college ranks.
Malik Dunbar (Auburn Athletics)
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