Gophers hire Ben Johnson as next head coach
First reported by Jeff Borzello of ESPN, the University of Minnesota will hire Xavier assistant coach Ben Johnson as their next men's head basketball coach.
Johnson was an assistant at Minnesota from 2013-2018 under Richard Pitino, and has gotten credit major credit for keeping former Hopkins star and top recruit Amir Coffey to stay home, as well as pushing for current Gopher Gabe Kaslcheur.
From GoXavier.com Coaching Profile:
“Ben is an outstanding coach and recruiter that will be a very successful head coach one day,” said head coach Travis Steele. “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. Everything he does he is very thorough and has helped us to mine the state of Alabama to get Colby Jones and New Jersey to get Zach Freemantle just to name a few. He’s got a great eye for talent and he’s very thorough, very diligent with his process. He is another guy I think is going to be a head coach sooner rather than later. He is terrific and we are fortunate to have him.”
Minnesota finished 25-13 and won the 2014 NIT Championship in Johnson’s first season on the Golden Gopher staff. UM finished 24-10 and earned an NCAA Tournament berth in the 2016-17 season. Numerous Golden Gophers earned All-BIG Ten honors during Johnson’s time at UM, including four in 2017, including First Team selection Nate Mason, Third Team selection Jordan Murphy and Defensive Player of the Year Reggie Lynch.
Johnson returned to Minnesota in 2013 after spending the 2012-13 season as an assistant coach at the University of Nebraska.
Prior to his role at Nebraska, Johnson spent four seasons on the staff at Northern Iowa from 2008-12. The Panthers went a combined 93-77 during that time, reaching postseason play in all four years, including a run to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2009-10. That year, UNI won a school-record 30 games and upset top-seeded Kansas in the second round. During his tenure at UNI, the Panthers boasted three First Team All-MVC selections, including 2010 Missouri Valley Conference MVP Adam Koch in 2010.
Prior to his stay at Northern Iowa, Johnson served as an assistant coach for two seasons at the University of Texas-Pan American. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at the University of Dayton during the 2005-06 season.
Johnson started his collegiate playing career at Northwestern and played two seasons before transferring to Minnesota to finish his career. He was a two-time captain at Minnesota and finished with 533 points in 59 games. He scored a total of 1,202 career points in his four seasons of collegiate basketball.
Johnson, who was born December 23, 1980 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology.