Former WWU basketball player gets DI coaching job

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDAugust 27, 2013 

James Johnson recently joined the University of Central Arkansas men's basketball staff as an associate head coach, bringing 25 years of experience to the Bears.

Most recently, Johnson served two years as athletic director and head basketball coach at Pasco Hernando Community College in New Port Richey, Fla. In 2011-12, he directed the Conquistadors to a 19-12 record and a berth in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Regional 10.

Previously, Johnson coached for nine seasons at Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Ark. In 2010-11, his team was runner-up at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Association of Independent Institutions Conference. Two players on that team earned all-conference honors.

While an assistant at PSC, the Panthers were second at the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) national tournament in 2005-06.

Johnson also was an assistant at Western Washington University (1989-98) for nine years and later a graduate assistant at University of Arizona (1994-96) under Lute Olsen and Joan Bonvinici.

"I have arrived at an excellent opportunity to coach at Central Arkansas, which is 22 miles from where I grew up," said Johnson, who was born in Little Rock, Ark.

At Western, Johnson played and coached under Brad Jackson, now a top assistant at the University of Washington.

"From the time I met Coach Jackson in 1987, I have always admired the things he did as a coach and I wanted to be just like him," Johnson said. "After working with him, I realized that I wanted to coach Division I basketball.

I thank coach Jackson for being my mentor, life-long friend, and for being a father figure. It was his guidance and love that set me on the right path for this opportunity."

Johnson earned his bachelor's degree from Western Washington in 1989 and completed his master's degree in education at Arizona in 1996. He has four children: Timothy, Thomas, Tiffany and Trent.

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