BLACKSBURG, Va. – (WTVR) It took Athletic Director Jim Weaver over a month to fire Seth Greenberg. It took him one week to find his replacement.
James Johnson was formally introduced as the new head coach at Virginia Tech on Tuesday…after spending the last five years as Greenberg’s top assistant. Johnson had left the program two weeks ago for essentially the same spot at Clemson, a defection that was one of the reasons Greenberg was let go.
“He is an individual with 19 years of coaching experience,” Weaver said. “He knows and has recruited most of our current players. We believe that he is the right person at this moment in time.”
The Powhatan native was an assistant coach from 2007-2011 before being promoted to associate head coach prior to last season. Part of the reason he was chosen was to help keep Tech’s prized recruits within the VT basketball family. Johnson will begin working on those relationships as well as constructing a staff right away.
“Virginia Tech and the Hokie Nation have a special place in my heart and I am blessed and excited for the opportunity to become the head basketball coach,” Johnson said. “We want guys that want to be excited about being at Virginia Tech, just like the guys that are in the program now.”
“This is a special place” Johnson continued “and they (recruits) need to have a special feeling in their hearts about being here.”
Johnson gets a five year deal worth $680,000 annually, the lowest of any current head coach in the ACC. ($245k base salary, $375k retention incentive)
Johnson joined the Hokies following two seasons as an assistant at George Mason. While at Mason, he focused on organizing the team’s defensive efforts in practice and games. The Patriots were a combined 45-23 in his two seasons and advanced to the 2006 NCAA Final Four. Before GMU, Johnson spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Penn State. He was the recruitment coordinator for the Nittany Lions. Prior to Penn State, Johnson had a one-year stint as an assistant at the College of Charleston and he spent two years as an assistant at Elon.
Johnson was a four-year player and three-year starter at Ferrum College. A three-time Defensive Player of the Year, he helped guide his team to two conference championships and a berth in the NCAA Division III Tournament. He was also voted his team’s Most Valuable Player in 1993. In 2001, Johnson was selected as one of the Top 10 players in Ferrum basketball history. In September of 2009, Johnson was elected into the Ferrum College Athletic Hall of Fame.
After graduating from Ferrum with a bachelor of science in psychology in 1993, he immediately stepped into the coaching ranks at his alma mater and served as an assistant for two seasons. Johnson helped guide the Panthers to a regular-season conference title.
In 1995, Johnson moved on to Longwood College as an assistant and then spent one year at Hargrave Military Academy, where he worked with the post-graduate team. In 1997, he began a three-year run as an assistant at Old Dominion. Johnson is a member of the Black Coaches Association (BCA) and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). In March 2001, Johnson was named one of the Top 20 Assistant Coaches at Mid-Major Division I Schools by Rivals.com. He was a squad leader in the Army National Guard from 1989-91.