“We finally get to go to work,” said Johnson. “Guys start lifting next week and the coaches get out on the road. The season starts in July and it always has because that is when you recruit which is the most important stable of your program and then you usually come back in August and make phone calls and contacts and find out about home visits. For me I rev it up a notch now.”
College basketball coaches can officially start evaluating prospects in person on July 6 and when Johnson talks to prospective recruits he will mention the 14-million dollar practice facility that is being built but that will not be the big selling point that he harps on.
“For me, it’s an exciting day, but also, it’s a day that we starting working on the men’s basketball program,” said Johnson. “I’ve been a head coach now for nine years; this is going to be my 10th year. I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve had the resources, the facilities and the commitment from people as a fan base that I have here at LSU.
“The reason you make a decision to come to a school is the institution and the players you are going to play with first and foremost,” he added. “This all helps and it attracts kids to a degree but ultimately for me as a head coach, the base of the program, the nuts and the brass tracks of just working and appreciating things is what you have to get to.”
Bringing in the type of players he needs to attain his goals is much more than just picking the highest rated players on the court.
LSU’s headman has an idea of what he is looking for and he used a blast from the past to illustrate the type of players he will turn to in reviving LSU basketball.
“We are going to get more Ricky Blanton’s. We are going to get more Rudy Macklin’s in our basketball program,” said Johnson. “What I mean by that is they may not be as talented or as gifted, but they are going to be as committed, they are going to play as hard and they are going to have a passion for the LSU institution.”
Johnson has reached out to the former Tigers that gave their all on the floor of the PMAC and the overall perception and reaction by many of them has been just what the LSU basketball family needed.
“He has the basketball knowledge and the instincts and he knows his history when it comes to LSU basketball,” said former Tiger great Rudy Macklin. “He has embraced the past and is going to bring it into the future. He has asked all of the players to come back and talk to the kids and to get involved with the program and that is what LSU needed. There is a level of excitement that hasn’t been here for quite some time.”