New Look For Lebo's Coaching Staff

At look at who is coming and who is going with the Auburn men's basketball coaching staff.

Auburn, Ala.--New Auburn men's basketball coach Jeff Lebo is not expected to retain any members of the coaching staff of Cliff Ellis, who was fired as head coach of the Tigers last month.

Associate head coach Shannon Weaver, assistant coach Tracy Dildy and assistant coach Charlton Young will be replaced by Dave Lebo, who is currently on the staff, and two new assistants, John Cooper and Brandon Johnson. Dave Lebo is the father of the head coach and made the move to AU along with his son from the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.

Jeff Lebo said that Oregon assistant coach John Cooper will join the Auburn staff. Cooper has already visited the Auburn campus to check out the university and met with AU officials. University of Texas-San Antonio assistant Brandon Johnson has also been hired by Auburn as an assistant coach.

Coach John Cooper

The connection with Lebo and Cooper came through Eddie Fogler. Both men were assistant coaches for Fogler at the University of South Carolina where Cooper was on the coaching staff from 1995-2001 before moving to Eugene, where he has been an assistant coach for the Oregon Ducks. The Pac 10 team reached the semi-finals of the NIT, ending the season with 18 victories after losing to Michigan.

Cooper, who is 35, was a standout player at Wichita State from 1988-91, playing his first two seasons for Fogler who later hired him to coach at South Carolina. Cooper led the Shockers in scoring and rebounds as a junior and senior and was a two-year team captain as well as a Rhodes Scholar.

He played two seasons of pro basketball, one in the CBA and one in Holland before beginning his coaching career. Prior to joining the staff at South Carolina, he was an assistant from 1993-95 at Fayetteville State in North Carolina. Cooper is a 1987 graduate of Rockhurst High School in Kansas City.

"I feel like I've put together a strong staff with great experience," Lebo said. "John has SEC coaching experience and has coached at the highest level at Oregon under Ernie Kent. Brandon is from Atlanta and coached three years in the state at Jacksonville State University. He is familiar with Georgia and Alabama and the Southeast."

Cooper said, "First of all, I am so excited to join the people at Auburn and to work with the young men and the administration. "It's always nice to come back and work with somebody you know and respect. There is a lot of great character and good people in the program. It will be fun and enjoyable, and I can't wait to get started and develop relationships."

Although the association with Lebo and Fogler is not as strong as it is with Cooper, Brandon Johnson has worked as an instructor at basketball camps run by Fogler. Johnson has spent the past two seasons at the University of Texas-San Antonio after working his way up the ranks from a high school assistant coach at Douglass High in Atlanta. He helped the Roadrunners win their first Southland Conference title since 1991-92 as UTSA advanced to the NCAA Tournament where it lost to Stanford in the opening round.

Coach Brandon Johnson

Johnson, who is 38, earned his bachelor's degree in 1997 at Georgia State University and his master's in 2002 from Central Michigan University. He graduated from Cardinal Gibbons High in Baltimore in 1984.

Prior to taking a job with the UTSA Roadrunners, Johnson was head coach in 2001-2002 at Atlanta Technical College during the school's startup of a basketball program. Before that he was an assistant from 1998-2001 at Jacksonville State. In 1997-98, he was an assistant coach at Clayton College in Morrow, Ga., and the season before that he coached at Atlanta Metropolitan College as that school won the Georgia Junior College Athletic Association championship.

His first coaching job began in 1992 at Douglass High, where he was named Georgia High School Association Assistant Coach of the Year for 1992-93 and 1993-94. He coached at Banneker High in Atlanta from 1994-96 and was also named Georgia High School Association Assistant Coach of the Year in 1994-95.

"It feels great to be coming to Auburn," Johnson said. "First and foremost, it is a great opportunity to work with Jeff Lebo. He is a very good coach, and he is well-respected by his peers in the coaching profession. He is very knowledgeable of the game and has been successful wherever he's been. I am very excited about bringing a winning tradition back to Auburn."

Johnson has coached at the Pete Newell Big Man Camp and in addition to working with Fogler has worked at basketball schools and camps for the New Zealand National Team and for college coaches Tubby Smith, Tom Izzo, Bobby Cremins, Bob Knight, Randy Ayers and Jud Heathcote.


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