Kenny Johnson ‘jumps at opportunity’ to work with Pitino


Kenny Johnson joins Rick Pitino's Louisville staff.
Kenny Johnson becomes Rick Pitino’s point man in recruiting.

Kenny Johnson has a couple of days to sign some papers, look at residential offerings, and begin to become familiar with current University of Louisville players. Then he hits the road this weekend for three days of recruiting.

There’s a non-contact period after April 27 until July 9 so it was important for him to sign with UofL right away. Recruiting requires as much cultivation as possible, making the most of every available minute. The summer camps will keep him hopping during July.

You think about the opportunity to work for and learn from one of the best coaches that ever lived. Louisville has a rich history.

Johnson, who was hired away from Indiana, said Rick Pitino has been a role model of his for many years.

“To receive a phone call from him was pretty humbling,” said Johnson. “You think about the opportunity to work for and learn from one of the best coaches that ever lived.  Louisville has a rich history. When you weigh everything, as a younger coach who is aspiring to learn as much as possible in the short time that I have here on this earth, I just jumped at the opportunity.”

He said leaving Tom Crean’s staff was difficult because of the mutual respect and close friendship.

Johnson said his life is based on relationships, in his personal life and in the basketball recruiting world. “When you have good relationships, good things tend to happen. Every talented player is not necessarily the best fit for your program or the player. I try to get to know the individuals and the families and know everything that makes that family tick.  I have been fortunate to work with people with high character, people that I respect.”

The new assistant, while aware of Pitino’s coaching tree, said he’s not looking for a head coaching post anytime soon. “I’m not at the point in my life where I’m consumed with becoming a head coach. I can’t look at that as my motivation for any kind of move.

“I think if you make a move under the premise that I just want to speed up my career choice, I don’t you could ever be genuinely focused and happy. I want to do the best job I can do. I want to repay Coach Pitino for the opportunity to be here at Louisville.”

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Pitino also announced that former UofL center David Padgett will be returning to the staff as a video assistant. Hopefully, that position also allows him to work with some of the big newcomers on the team.

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Author: Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, as well as a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.