After 19 years as an assistant coach at nine schools, James Johnson was introduced Tuesday as the new Virginia Tech men’s basketball coach.
Alongside Director of Athletics Jim Weaver, Johnson took the stage for the first time as the head coach of the Hokies.
“It is my pleasure to introduce and announce to you our new head men’s basketball coach here at the university, James Johnson,” Weaver said. “He’s earned his stripes and it’s time he become a head coach. I am pleased and proud that he’s here with us in Blacksburg as a Hokie.”
After the dismissal of former head Seth Greenberg on April 24, Weaver searched high and low for a candidate to fill the vacancy.
On April 17, Johnson had left the Hokies as their associate head coach to take an assistant coaching job at Clemson. Just over two weeks later, Johnson is back in Blacksburg as a head coach.
“Virginia Tech and the Hokie nation have a special place in my heart and I am blessed and excited for the opportunity to become the head basketball coach,” Johnson said. “I look forward to working with a great group of young men and moving forward with this program.”
This being Johnson’s first head coaching position at any level, there will be some doubters. However, Weaver believes he got the right man for the job.
“He knows and has recruited most of our current players,” Weaver said. “We believe that he is the right person at this moment in time. All of the things I’ve alluded to have led me to think we’ve struck gold.”
Even Johnson, who doesn’t have the head coaching experience of any other coach in the ACC, isn’t worried he’ll have problems in his first year on the job.
“I do believe that I’m ready for the position,” Johnson said. “I go from being a suggestion maker to a decision maker. Instead of me being one of the four (assistants) yelling in the head coach’s ear, I have four guys yelling in my ear and I have to be the decision maker on which of those things we’re going to do.”
Part of the reason Weaver went with Johnson is his bevy of experience under some coaching legends. Johnson has been an assistant under Jim Larranaga at George Mason, Ed DeChellis at Penn State, and Jeff Capel Sr. at Old Dominion.
“I’ve been fortunate to work with some very good coaches and I think that I will take a little bit from every one of those programs and bring it to my program,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s contract has a base salary of $245,000 with a retention incentive of $375,000 for radio, televisionand personal appearances. He’ll make a total of $680,000 a year over his five-year contract.
Current Hokies Erick Green and Jarell Eddie also spoke about what it means to have someone they’re familiar with back in charge of the program.