When Bennie Seltzer left the IU program to become head coach at Samford University, Tom Crean had a vacancy to fill. He didn’t waste much time, reaching out to potential candidates and today, officially hiring Kenny Johnson as an assistant.
Johnson comes to to Indiana after serving on the staff at Towson University, where the team finished the year a miserable 1-31. He also coached at Paul VI High School in Fairfax, Va. for four seasons and is most known for his work with Team Takeover, an AAU team in the Washington D.C. area.
Crean is very familiar with Johnson’s work, especially with Team Takeover where he coached current Hoosiers Maurice Creek and Victor Oladipo. Look for IU to try and tap hard into that pipeline.
“We have been impressed by Kenny and have followed him for years,” Crean said in a release. “He will bring a solid mix of personality, work ethic and toughness to our staff. I’ve always admired his ability to get the most out of the young men he has worked with. We are excited about his potential and look forward to him working with our entire staff.”
The obvious choice was Calbert Cheaney, who could slide over from Director of Basketball Operations. The circumstances may not have been right for Cheaney and his family, who lives on the north side of Indianapolis. Maybe in a few years, when his kids are older.
Last week, Coach Crean talked with the media for an extended period of time and said hiring his assistant was about fit and comfort.
“I think past experiences would play into it. I’m way past going the stranger route, going the recommendation route, going the” well we’ve heard good things about him” and they’ve got a good track record but you know we really don’t know him. I’ve not done well with that. Really we are in a situation where familiarity will be a factor inside of it as well.”
Kenny Johnson has a lot to look forward to. Coming to a basketball-rich state, a team that went 27-9 last year and is expected to begin the year as the top rated team, and reunite with Creek and Oladipo.
“I’ve known Coach Crean for a long time and what’s most impressive and easy to see is how family oriented he and his staff are,” Johnson added. “I think that carries over to their relationship with their players as well and I take that responsibility of building on their success and doing things the right way very seriously.”
“I am extremely proud and honored to be part of the Hoosier family,” said Johnson. “Indiana University is a place with unbelievable tradition and I am looking forward to continuing to help young men reach their potential.”
A little more about Johnson, from IU media relations:
Johnson, a native of Oxon Hill, Maryland, comes to IU from Towson where he joined the staff last year after serving as associate head coach at Paul VI High School in Fairfax, Virginia for four years. Johnson’s background also includes being named the associate head coach at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in 2002 and in 2006 he became the associate head coach at Dr. Henry Wise High School. The following year he began his coaching run at Paul VI.
Johnson served six years as vice president/assistant director of basketball operations of TeamTakeover and head coach of its 16 and under age group. Since 2002 he has been an integral part of high school programs, including TeamTakeover that produced a total of 53 Division I scholarship players and a state championship (PVI – 2009). His travel team tournament ledger includes the prestigious King James Classic (2009, 2010) and the Orlando National Super Showcase (2009). TeamTakeOver is the program that produced current Hoosiers Victor Oladipo and Maurice Creek.
A 1999 graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park where he was a Benjamin Banneker Scholarship recipient and earned his degree in cell, molecular biology and genetics, Johnson’s playing career was cut short due to an injury in his second year of varsity basketball at Oxon Hill High School.
In addition to his many years as a camp coach at Eastern Invitational, as well as Reebok Headliner Camp, Johnson was a guest clinician at the New England Basketball Coaching Clinic at Reebok Headquarters. He has also served as a camp and tournament director, beginning with the first Annual National High School Hoop Festival in 2007 and the first Annual DMV Basketball Coaching Clinic in 2008.
He and his wife, Doreen, have two sons, Amare (9) and Mekai (6).