Pitino Tabs Former Gopher Player Ben Johnson For Assistant On Staff 17 Apr 13

University of Minnesota head men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino today announced the addition of former Golden Gopher guard Ben Johnson to his coaching staff.

“I have been impressed with what I have personally seen and heard from a variety of knowledgeable people when they talk about Ben Johnson,” said Pitino. “In addition to being a proud Minnesota alum, he brings the work ethic I am looking for and a knowledge of the university, the Midwest and the Big Ten Conference.”

Johnson returns to his hometown and alma mater after spending one season as an assistant coach on Tim Miles’ University of Nebraska staff. While with the Huskers, the former Gopher captain assisted in all-day-to-day basketball-related duties while also serving as recruiting coordinator. Johnson also led the development of Nebraska’s backcourt players.

Prior to his role at Nebraska, Johnson spent four seasons on the staff at Northern Iowa. The Panthers went a combined 93-77 in that timeframe, winning at least 20 games in all four years. The four-straight 20-win seasons is the longest stretch in program history, 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. Four players were named to the MVC All-Freshmen or All-Newcomer teams, including a pair in 2011-12.

Prior to his stay at Northern Iowa, Johnson served as an assistant coach for two seasons at the University of Texas-Pan American. He was heavily involved in recruiting, worked with the Broncos perimeter players and coordinated UTPA’s summer camps. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at the University of Dayton during the 2005-06 season.

Johnson’s coaching career began at the University of Dayton, where he served as a graduate assistant during the 2005-06 season.

Johnson started his collegiate playing career at Northwestern and played two seasons before returning to the Twin Cities to finish his career. He was a two-time captain at Minnesota and finished with 533 points in 59 games in Maroon and Gold. He scored a total of 1,202 career points between the two Big Ten Conference institutions.

The Minneapolis native enjoyed a standout prep career, leading DeLaSalle High School to a pair of state championships. He was a two-time first-team all-state selection in both football and basketball, and as a senior, was named a Street & Smith All-American, as well as an honorable mention Nike All-American.

He was listed as the 60th-best basketball player in the country by Bob Gibbons in his senior season, totaling more than 2,200 points during his high school career. Johnson also was listed on Tom Lemming’s High School Football All-American list as a top-20 national recruit and was a two-time all-state performer on the gridiron.