Johnson introduced at Clemson

CLEMSON - James Johnson, the newest member of the Clemson basketball staff, talks about his new job, his old boss and whether or not he could return to Virginia Tech.

On Tuesday afternoon, Johnson met with the media in Clemson for the first-time since Brad Brownell hired him to replace Rick Ray.

Tell us what happened, you approaching Seth [Greenberg], what your understanding was leaving the program.
Johnson: Seth talked to Brad [Brownell]. Brad called and talked with Seth, in reference to his vacant position. He was losing an assistant coach. I guess they talked about me. Brad and Seth are good friends. I'm sure they small talked a little bit and talked about me. Brad asked for permission to talk to me. Brad and I talked a little bit. I went back, sat down, and talked with Seth. When I got back with Brad, I guess here I am. I'm here in Clemson.

What was it that made you want to come here? The [Virginia Tech] AD said he matched the offer, so apparently it wasn't money.
Johnson: I've gotten into the business to coach you men and have an effect on young men's lives through the game of basketball. I've known Brad a long time, dating back to our Colonial days. He was an assistant at Wilmington. I was n assistant at Old Dominion. Of course, he got the coaching job there and moved on to Wright State and now Clemson. He's done a great job at every spot. I've followed his career. When you're competing against someone in recruiting, as we did, in coaching, night in and night out in contests, you kind of get a feel for someone. You kind of develop some respect for them and their program, how they do things.

I've always liked and respected Brad, liked the things he's done, respected the ways he's taught, how hard they played, respected the type of kids that he's recruited.

What is your reaction to what Virginia Tech did yesterday?
Johnson: That was very surprising, very surprising to me. Coach Greenberg has a lot of energy. He's put his stamp on that program. I'm a Virginia native and I've known Virginia Tech. Basketball, for many years, was not relevant there. He came in and took that program from little known to a national level in the toughest conference in the country. He did a great job. For him to be let go, it was surprising to me.

Why come here, as opposed to staying there? It looks somewhat lateral.
Johnson: My familiarity with coach Brad and my familiarity with the rest of the guys on the staff. It's appealing to me in that the guy that I replaced, Rick Ray, is a head coach in the SEC right now. I have goals and aspirations to be a head coach one day…one of his assistants on his staff gets the Mississippi State job, that was appealing to me.

What was your first impression of Clemson? You've coached in this building before, what did you think of the program and what they've got going on here, before you got here?
Johnson: Besides playing all the games down to a one-point game and the shot coming down, shot at the buzzer, one team's going to have the ball? I don't know the stat. if you look at the stats, probably whoever had the lead with a minute to go in the game, probably lost the game.

My first impression is what I thought when we would come in here and compete. The fans are passionate. Everybody around here is very nice. It's a lot similar to Virginia Tech. it's a college town. Everything kind of revolves around the university and the sports programs here.

Did the instability at Virginia Tech, perceived or otherwise, have a factor in your decision?
Johnson: No. in this business, a coach has got to do it on an individual basis. Coaches have to do what they think is best for their careers. Guys make moves for different reasons, whether it's family, location or league, or familiarity or to be with a head coach -- whatever. Guys move for different reasons.

My situation was an isolated situation, to change jobs.

What do you feel your biggest strengths are?
Johnson: Recruiting is one of my strengths. I've been coaching college basketball 19 years. I've coached on a lot of different levels. I've coached under a few different head coaches. I think my experience, experience in the ACC, I think that'll help.

I've been up and down the east coast in some of the areas that Rick recruited. I can move right in and kind of take over those areas.

Is there anything to you being linked to the Virginia Tech job?
Johnson: I'm sure that's out there. I'm here at Clemson. I'm happy to be here. I'm very fortunate that Brad saw the things that he saw in me, to offer me the position on his staff, to have the opportunity to work with him.

Would you answer the phone if they called to talk about that?
Johnson: That's a situation where I would need to sit down and talk to Brad, and see what his thoughts are. I've got a great deal of respect in Brad and the way he's done things, how he's come up in this business, and positioned himself where he's a very good coach in the ACC. I would rely on him for a lot of help in that situation. Top Stories