NC State hires ex-Hokies coach Johnson as an assistant

Former Virginia Tech head coach and Miami basketball operations chief James Johnson has joined Kevin Keatts' staff at N.C. State. (Gerry Broome)

North Carolina State has hired former Virginia Tech coach James Johnson as an assistant.

New coach Kevin Keatts announced the hiring Monday.

"James and I go back over 25 years, and my comfort level in his approach, his knowledge of the ACC, and my respect for his ability to teach and develop our student-athletes, makes him an ideal fit," Keatts said. "He is an outstanding addition to our staff, and I welcome him to N.C. State."

Keatts and Johnson were teammates at Ferrum College from 1991-93.

Most recently, Johnson spent two years as the Director of Basketball Operations for Jim Larranaga's program at Miami.

Johnson spent three seasons on Seth Greenberg's staff with the Hokies, then succeeded him in 2012 and held the top job until he was fired in 2014 after going 22-41 during those two seasons.

Though his success was limited with the Hokies, his first Virginia Tech squad saw senior guard Erick Green become the first Hokie to be named Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year and lead the nation in scoring.

Johnson was also an assistant for Larranaga at George Mason. The Patriots went a combined 45-23 in his two seasons there and advanced to the 2006 NCAA Final Four before falling to eventual national champion Florida.

Prior to GMU, Johnson spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Penn State, one year at College of Charleston, two seasons at Elon and thee years at Old Dominion. In 2001, Rivals.com named Johnson one of the Top 20 Assistant Coaches at Mid-Major Division I College Basketball.

He spent 1995-96 at Longwood College as an assistant, and after one season moved onto Hargrave Military Academy where he spent one season working with the post-graduate team. He left Hargrave in 1997 to join the staff at Old Dominion.

A native of Powhatan, Va., Johnson was a four-year player and three-year starter at Ferrum College. A three-time conference defensive player of the year, he helped guide his team to two conference championships and a berth in the NCAA Division III Tournament.

On a personal note, Johnson was a squad leader in the Army National Guard from 1989-91.

Keatts was hired from UNC Wilmington earlier this month to replace the fired Mark Gottfried.

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