Trent Johnson, with two strong back-to-back recruiting classes on board, enters his fourth season as the head coach of the LSU Tigers in 2011-12.
Johnson’s passion and vision for the LSU basketball program has the Tigers headed in the right direction.
As Johnson and his staff continue to develop players both on the court and off the court, they expect continued improvement athletically, academically and socially from the team.
Johnson, the 20th men’s basketball coach at LSU, seeks to build on more than a decade of excellence at LSU, Stanford and Nevada. Having earned Conference Coach of the Year in all three leagues (Western Athletic Conference, Pac-10 and Southeastern Conference), Johnson knows the route to success to getting LSU back in the national spotlight.
In his first season at LSU, Johnson led the Tigers to 27 wins, tied for the third most wins in a season in LSU history. The Tigers won the SEC regular season championship with a record of 13-3. LSU returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006, advancing to the second round before falling, 84-70, to North Carolina in the closest game the eventual national champions would have to play. LSU had a second half lead on the Tar Heels and the game was still in the balance entering the final eight minutes.
In the opening round, LSU defeated nationally-ranked Butler one year prior to the Bulldogs starting their run of two straight trips to the NCAA Championship game.
Coach Johnson has a blueprint for success for himself and his players. As his players grasp the vision for success, they have the opportunity to embrace playing in a fast-paced system where executing in the half court and defending and rebounding are at a high level.
Johnson has a record of success and his team will have the opportunity to blend together and learn from a coach that is a fierce competitor who exudes and demands toughness.
His devotion to the team, his protective beliefs toward his players and his loyalty to his former players is evidenced by the fact that three of his former players are now members of the LSU basketball staff. Johnson is a program builder and he has re-established the base of the LSU program by visiting with former players and coaches to bring together the past, the present and the future of the program.
Former LSU star and recently retired NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal pointed out several times during the recently unveiling of the “Shaq” statue outside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center practice facility that it was Coach Johnson who brought the players back and welcomed them to be a part of the program. He also thanked Coach Johnson for his efforts in turning the statue into a reality.
The players are now regularly in the stands watching the Tigers play and they feel again a part of the program they left their mark on. In true Johnson fashion, the Coach deflects the praise on to his student-athletes whom he molded to perform as he hoped.
He also has spent time with the Maravich Maniacs student fan group, the Tiger Girls and LSU Cheerleaders to make them feel a vital part of the program. He is on Twitter @LSUCoachJohnson keeping LSU fans abreast of his travels and thoughts as he prepares for another season.
Johnson also is charged with the development of athletes both on and off the court. Off the court, he has worked hard since day one to make sure student-athletes understand the “student” part of their days at LSU. At all three spots in his head coaching career, he has developed not just successful athletes and winning basketball teams, but young men who are having success in life.
In his 12 years combined as a Division I head coach at LSU, Stanford and Nevada, he has won 208 games and taken teams in seven of the last nine seasons to post-season play, including five NCAA appearances.
In addition, Johnson has one of the growing coaching trees in the country as six of his former assistant coaches have gone on to become head coach at successful programs: Mark Fox (Georgia, Nevada); Davis Carter (Nevada); Eric Reveno (Portland); Josh Newman (Arkansas-Fort Smith); Chris Tifft (New Mexico JC, Lamar CC); and, Keith Richard (ULM).
Johnson was named the 2009 consensus SEC Coach of the Year and was a finalist for four national coach of the year honors as he became the first LSU men’s basketball coach to win the league title and take the team to post-season play in his first year at the school.
Under Johnson’s watch, he has already coached an SEC Player of the Year in Marcus Thornton, who had a breakout rookie year in 2010 as a member of the New Orleans Hornets and continued his strong offensive play in 2011 with the Sacramento Kings. Thornton is one of three Tigers who have logged minutes in the NBA from that 2009 championship team, joining Garrett Temple who has appeared on several rosters and Chris Johnson, who used a 10-day contract to eventually earn a spot with the Portland Trailblazers.
Thornton and Tasmin Mitchell became the first LSU players since 1990 to earn consensus First-Team All-SEC honors.
Mitchell would finish his career in the top 10 in career scoring (third), rebounds (sixth), field goals made, assists and steals. He ended his time at LSU as the all-time leader in minutes played (4,692), games played (137) and games started (136).
Those four players represent Johnson’s ability to teach and mold a well-rounded basketball player into having both a good offensive and defensive presence that can benefit the team and provide a chance to play at the next level.
Johnson, who also served as a Stanford assistant from 1996-99, made an immediate impact when he returned as the head coach at The Farm in 2004. He was the only head coach in Stanford history at the time to guide The Cardinal to the postseason in each of his first four seasons with three NCAA Tournament berths in those four years, including a trip to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2008.
He was named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year, part of a rare double when he won the same honor in the SEC one year later.
In 2008, Stanford earned a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament and posted three wins over ranked teams during the course of the year.
In his first season at Stanford (2005), Johnson displayed his leadership in the face of adversity as Stanford dealt with a season-ending injury to its leading scorer while having only nine healthy players to complete that year. Despite that, the Cardinal finished third in the league and earned an NCAA Tournament trip.
In 2007, the Cardinal squad again reached the NCAA Tournament in a year that included five wins over Top 25 clubs, including 75-68 win over No. 2 UCLA when Stanford overcame a 17-point deficit.
Johnson at Stanford developed great players who again excelled both on and off the floor, headlined by the Lopez twins who were both first round selections in the 2008 NBA draft. Brook was the 10th selection of the New Jersey Nets and Robin was the 15th selection by the Phoenix Suns . Several student-athletes in his Stanford tenure also earned academic honors, including Dan Grunfeld who made the CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American team twice.
Johnson’ s first college head coaching position came at Nevada as he revitalized the Wolfpack program in his five years there (1999-04). It was there that Johnson displayed his coaching and recruiting expertise as he transformed the struggling Nevada program to a conference powerhouse.
Prior to his arrival, Nevada had never won an NCAA Tournament game. In 2003, Johnson was named the Western Athletic Conference Coach of the Year when his team won 18 games, advanced to the championship of the WAC Tournament and an NIT bid. In 2004, his team posted a school record tying 25 wins, tied for the first time for the WAC regular season title and won the WAC Tournament Championship. Nevada posted upset victories in the 2004 NCAA Tournament over Michigan State and Gonzaga before losing to national runner-up Georgia Tech in the Sweet 16.
His success at Nevada included the recruitment and development of standouts Kirk Snyder and Nick Fazekas. Snyder, a WAC Player of the Year, was the 16th player chosen in the 2004 NBA draft by Utah. Fazekas was a three-time WAC POY, who was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks.
Johnson’s three years as Stanford assistant before becoming a head coach coincided with the start of one of the most successful runs in school history. The Cardinal advanced to the NCAA Final Four in 1998 and twice (1997, 1998) reached the Sweet 16. The Coach contributed to the development and recruitment of some of Stanford’s greatest players including future NBAers Brevin Knight, Mark Madsen, Casey Jacobsen and Jarron and Jason Collins.
Before his stint at Stanford, Johnson served as an assistant coach at Utah (1986-89), Washington (1989-92) and Rice (1992-96). At Washington, he recruited 1992 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, Mark Pope, and at Utah, he signed Josh Grant, the 1990 WAC MVP and Naismith Award finalist.
Johnson got his coaching start at the prep level, serving as an assistant coach at Boise High School from 1980-83. While at Boise High School, Johnson coached the sophomore “B” team, while also serving as an assistant to Greg Hordemann on the varsity squad.
During his successful playing career at Boise State (1974-78), Johnson finished in the top 10 in scoring and rebounds. In 1976, the Broncos won the Big Sky Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. In his junior year, Johnson was named Boise State’s Most Valuable Player and in his final season was named All-Big Sky.
Johnson earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education in 1986 and in Oct. 2009 was named a recipient of Boise State’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Johnson also played professionally for the Washington Lumberjacks of the Western Basketball League.
Off The Court
Johnson has always been a big believer in special causes and joined former LSU basketball coach Dale Brown and star center Shaquille O’Neal in cutting a series of commercials that aired nationally for the “Be A Match” organization of bone marrow donors.
In June 2010, Johnson was part of a 10-day trip to Africa as part of the Nkomazi Sports Club Organization program that was established to stop the transmission of HIV through culturally relevant, locally sustainable health and life skills education-based programs in communities affected by HIV/AIDS.
He also is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Basketball Coaches and has served on the NABC Special Committee on Recruiting and Access. He also gives his time freely to such organizations as the Boy Scouts of America, the Louisiana Health and Rehab Center, Inc., the American Diabetes Association, Samaritan’s Feet, Troops First and the Jimmy V Foundation for cancer research championed by ESPN’s Dick Vitale.
Johnson, who was born in Berkeley, Calif., and calls Seattle, Wash., his home, is married to Jackie and they have two children: a daughter, Tinishia, 28, and a son, Terry, 25.
Johnson’s vision and passion is what drives him to make LSU basketball a success. With a coaching staff and a group of players that believe in the same vision and passion, that success has to be very much in site.
The Johnson File
Year at LSU: Fourth
Birth Date: September 12, 1956
Birthplace: Berkeley, Calif.
Hometown: Seattle, Wash.
High School: Franklin HS
College: Boise State (’86)
Children: Tinishia (28), Terry (25)
College Coaching Experience
1986-89: Assistant Coach Utah
1989-92: Assistant Coach Washington
1992-96: Assistant Coach Rice
1996-99: Assistant Coach Stanford
1999-04: Head Coach Nevada
2004-08: Head Coach Stanford
April 10, 2008: Head Coach LSU
Conference Players of the Year During Coach Johnson’s Head Coaching Tenure
Kirk Snyder – 2004
Marcus Thornton – 2009
Coach of the Year Honors
2003 – Western Athletic Conference
2008 – Pac-10 Conference
2009 – Southeastern Conference
Head Coaching Record:
NIT First Round
NCAA Sweet 16; WAC Tournament Champion
NCAA First Round
NIT Second Round
NCAA First Round
NCAA Sweet 16
NCAA Second Round