“It would have been much easier if it was earlier this summer,” Hasty said. “We just had to say ‘Okay we’re basically losing a lot of enrollees and some players who were definitely going to come, what do we do?’ No panic. Just had to trust in God and get on the horn.”
Hasty made many phone calls looking for a coach who fit the school’s Christian mission and could attract talent. As it turned out, the best option was already connected to the school. Less than two weeks after losing two well-connected coaches, National Christian announced a hire that surprised many locally. The basketball program and the athletics department would be taken over by one of the school’s newest parents, Kenny Johnson.
Johnson arrives at the Oxon Hill private school following a high-profile but rocky stint at the college level. After climbing the assistant coaching ranks from Towson to Indiana to Louisville in a span of four years, he was let go by the Cardinals, along with the rest of the program’s coaching staff, following a corruption scandal in 2017. He spent the next two years at La Salle, but in May the Explorers announced Johnson was no longer with the team after he was named in the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations to Louisville.
Johnson, a graduate of Oxon Hill, said he is happy to return to Prince George’s County and get back to his roots as a high school coach. Before making the leap to college, he was an assistant at Eleanor Roosevelt, Wise and Paul VI, as well as a key member of the celebrated Team Takeover AAU operation.
“Having been around the country, the basketball here is so competitive,” he said. “It’s played at such a high level and the youth coaches here do so such a great job in preparing the younger kids. It really is a breeding ground for college basketball players.”
Johnson had recently enrolled his son at National Christian and was impressed by Hasty and the school.
“It just made sense for me to come in and serve the community and continue the tradition of what I believe is a great program,” Johnson said. “There’s no reason why we can’t establish a program that can compete on a national level with some of the other highly-credential independent schools in the country.”
Johnson will serve as the school’s athletic director as well as its boys’ basketball coach. The school recently hired former Archbishop Carroll assistant Tory Hunnicutt to take over the football program. They hope to have a football season in the second semester. Henry Anglin will remain as the girls’ basketball coach.
Before the opportunity at National Christian presented itself, Johnson planned to take a break from coaching. But he liked the idea of building something new with the Eagles. He quickly got to work looking for players to replenish a depleted roster. By the second week of school he had 12 varsity players enrolled.
One of the bigger names to make the switch is George Washington commit Brayon Freeman. The three-star guard began his high school career at DeMatha, followed by one year at O’Connell and one year at Huntington Prep in West Virginia. When Huntington announced in July it would not be having a season, Freeman considered prep schools all over the country until he was approached by Johnson at an AAU event.
“His resume checks all the boxes,” Freeman said of his new coach. “He’s developed a lot of pro guys and said that’s what he wants to do that for me. For me, it was a no-brainer.”
Other basketball news
Paul VI guard Trevor Keels announced his final three college choices last week: Duke, Virginia and Villanova. The two-time All-Met selection is the highest-ranked local player in the Class of 2021 at No. 14.
Frederick Douglass big man Abdou Samb committed to Rhode Island last week. The two-star forward is the first member of the Rams’ Class of 2021. This marks the fourth straight year Rhode Island has landed a local basketball recruit.
South County guard Andre Speight committed to Mount St. Mary’s this month. The Mountaineers have made a habit of landing local public school stars, having picked up Eleanor Roosevelt’s Quinton Mincey last year
Former Ballou defensive lineman Andre Porter has enrolled at Washington High School in Pennsylvania. With the District of Columbia State Athletic Association planning for a second-semester football season, the Boston College commit opted for a fall season in Pennsylvania, where he has family.