While the Indiana Hoosiers added a few new pieces from last year’s team, Kenny Johnson hasn’t exactly received the same level of attention as freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell.
But coaches and players credit the team’s newest assistant coach with much of the team’s success this year.
Johnson’s name is a familiar one in Washington area basketball circles: the Oxon Hill native and University of Maryland graduate was an executive and coach with the AAU’s Team Takeover for six years and worked with many of the top prospects to come out of the district in recent years. Last May, Indiana Coach Tom Crean added Johnson to his staff as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. Johnson had worked with Hoosier players Victor Oladipo and Maurice Creek, but Crean explained recently that Johnson brings more to the program than his contacts and recruitment abilities.
“I was fortunate when I got a start that no one ever pigeonholed me into a position. When you coach, you coach, you recruit, you administrate, you teach, you scout, you do it all. That’s exactly what Kenny Johnson has come here and done,” Crean said. “He’s gotten a lot of notoriety for the recruiting he’s done in a short time, and rightfully so. But he’s a basketball coach. When he leaves us, it won’t be for anything in front of his title other than head coach. He’s going to be that good.”
Indiana’s 2013 class is ranked in the top 5 by most scouting services, highlighted by Noah Vonleh, a 6-foot-9 forward from New Hampton (N.H.) Prep who’s largely considered one of the 10 best players in his class.
Johnson has also hold locked down Troy Williams, a 6-6 forward from Oak Hill Academy, and Stanford Robinson, a 6-4 shooting guard who began his high school career at Paul VI Catholic before transferring to Nevada’s Findlay Prep for his senior year.
While certainly most of the praise to this point, though, has centered on recruiting, Hoosiers players and Indiana’s coaches credited Johnson with helping game-plan the team’s NCAA tournament opening-round win over James Madison last week.
“He was very, very forceful and demonstrative in this scout, which showed his maturing as a coach,” Crean said. “He knew this team because of being in the league, and he did a phenomenal job of getting it across. He had the details down, but he made sure — we all made sure — that our players understood, okay, this is what they want. This is how they want to get it, and he did a phenomenal job with it.”
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