Gophers expected to hire Ben Johnson as next basketball coach
The Gophers are expected to hire Ben Johnson as its next men’s basketball coach, according to reports by ESPN and Stadium on Monday afternoon. This would be the first head coaching job for the Minneapolis native.
Johnson was an assistant under former Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino from 2013-18. He has been on staff at Xavier since 2018.
Johnson, a Minneapolis native and DeLaSalle graduate, was on the U staff when the program brought in its two biggest in-state recruiting wins in Hopkins’ Amir Coffey and Cretin-Derham Hall’s Daniel Oturu.
Gophers Athletics Director Mark Coyle has said recruiting is among the top attributes he sought after letting go of Ricard Pitino last Monday.
“Great to see an alum get an opportunity to rebuild the program,” former Gophers forward and current Benilde-St. Margaret’s coach Damian Johnson tweeted.
Coyle reportedly met with Johnson for “much of the day on Sunday and was ‘blown away,’ ” a source told Stadium’s Jeff Goodman.
Xavier head coach Travis Steele previously said about Johnson: “Ben is an outstanding coach and recruiter that will be a very successful head coach one day. Ben is ‘Steady Eddy,’ he just is. He is the same guy every day. He is highly intelligent, very well thought out. He’s very good at everything. He is great on the floor, he’s great in skill development, he’s got a great offensive mind and he’s got great relationships with our players. He is a really good evaluator and recruiter.
Johnson played two seasons at Northwestern and two seasons at Minnesota (2002-04). He played 59 games for the Gophers, averaging 11.5 points and 2.5 rebounds his senior season.
After his playing career, Johnson was a graduate assistant at Dayton for two years, followed by two years at Texas-Pan American, four years at Northern Iowa and one year at Nebraska with Tim Miles before joining Pitino’s staff.
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