Louisville basketball adds Trent Johnson as assistant to David Padgett's staff
The University of Louisville named veteran coach Trent Johnson to David Padgett's staff as an assistant coach on Wednesday, the first step toward completing Padgett's coaching team before the season starts on Nov. 12.
Johnson, 61, is filling the opening created by Padgett's promotion to interim head coach. A former head coach at Nevada, Stanford, LSU and TCU, Johnson has 17 years of experience running a program.
The connection between Johnson and Padgett's family spans two decades. Johnson was the coach at Nevada when Padgett, now 32, was the star center for Reno High, where he and Johnson's son, Terry, played for Pete Padgett, David's dad.
"Especially with the timing of all this, it couldn’t have worked out better for me," Padgett said. "I don’t think I could have made a better hire."
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Padgett said he first spoke to Johnson, who was fired by TCU in 2016 and spent last season traveling the country and watching practices, early last week, initially hoping to just pick his brain about what to do in his situation. The conversation progressed from there.
"I was actually surprised he said yes because of how badly we beat his Stanford team in the NCAA Tournament (78-58 in 2007 first round)," Padgett said as Johnson laughed. "I literally could not have hired a better guy. He’s going to be great for me to lean on from an experience standpoint, a basketball coaching standpoint, and he’s going to be absolutely incredible for our guys.”
Johnson's teams went 276-264 with five NCAA Tournament appearances. His most successful stop was at Stanford, where the Cardinal won 80 games in his four seasons and reached the Sweet 16 in the 2008 NCAA Tournament. Johnson also guided Nevada to 25 wins and the Sweet 16 in the 2004 tournament.
He was fired from TCU after posting a 50-79 record over four seasons.
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"A sense of responsibility to (Padgett), his staff and the players on this basketball team," Johnson said when asked why he took the job. "(And) to continue in any way possible to help them sustain the level of excellence Louisville basketball has been about."
Born in California and raised in Seattle, Johnson played four years at Boise State. His coaching career, which started two years after college, has also included a stop at Boise (Idaho) High, plus assistant coaching jobs at Rice, Stanford, Utah and Washington.
Johnson will help Padgett with some of the major tasks ahead of him, ranging from settling a program under scrutiny for its role in the FBI's investigation into corruption in college basketball recruiting to game planning and scouting.
Padgett said Johnson will also help with recruiting, which Padgett is in the early stages of trying to rekindle in the wake of the FBI bombshell. The new Louisville coach traveled to St. Louis on Tuesday to meet with Courtney Ramey, a Class of 2018 guard who recentlydecommitted from Louisville after the FBI news broke.
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"First and foremost was head coaching experience," Padgett said when asked what he was looking for in hiring Johnson. "I'd be absolutely crazy going into this thinking I didn't need somebody who has that."
Padgett has had three staffers — program assistant R.J. Evans, video coordinator Logan Baumann and director of basketball operations Michael Bowden — helping him as temporary assistant coaches, with special NCAA permission to help run practices.
Two of them will continue in their roles until the employment status of assistant coach Kenny Johnson is determined. U of L announced Wednesday that it has "parted ways" with assistant coach Jordan Fair. Padgett wasn't certain yet which two would remain in those positions.
Fair and Johnson have been placed on administrative leave as the university navigates the fallout from the FBI's investigation.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino has also been suspended and placed on administrative leave by the university. The University of Louisville Athletic Association will vote on terminating Pitino for cause on Monday.