Louisville assistant coach Kenny Johnson joined the Cardinal staff on April 23rd and the former Indiana assistant and recruiting coordinator was saddled with large expectations.
While Johnson is a noted recruiter with strong ties on the east coast, he was also asked to do something else by Louisville head coach Rick Pitino: lose weight. Since taking the Louisville job, Johnson has undergone dramatic lifestyle changes that have led to him losing an astounding 92 pounds in four months. The transformation of Johnson throughout the spring and summer has been remarkable, as detailed in a story on Louisville’s athletics site.
“During the interview process, Coach Pitino stressed having the best conditioned team in college basketball,” Johnson said in the story. “We don’t want to ask them to do what the coaching staff is not willing to do. I feel like I am in better shape and hopefully I’ve been sharper, a little more focused and a little less tired.”
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Pitino challenged Johnson to be under 240 pounds by the start of the fall semester and Johnson passed that challenge as he moves on to his next goal of being under 15 percent body fat.
Instead of undergoing fad diets or using diet pills Johnson stayed steady with diet and exercise. Johnson got rid of bread, desserts, soda, red meat, fried foods and processed foods and juices, according to the story.
Johnson now exercises about an hour a day and works with Louisville strength and conditioning coach Ray Ganong to help with his weight loss.
This is a tremendous story and shows how committed Johnson is to improving his health. We’ve also seen Providence head coach Ed Cooley recently lose a lot of weight as well and this is the kind of positive trend that would be great to see continue among college basketball coaches.
Indiana has seen its fair share of losses this offseason with the early NBA Draft departure of Noah Vonleh and the transfer or Jeremy Hollowell and Austin Etherington. Now the Hoosiers will have a coaching staff departure to deal with as — according to Scout.com‘s Evan Daniels — Indiana assistant coach Kenny Johnson will take the same position at Louisville.
Louisville’s hiring of Johnson helps them replace former assistant coach Kevin Keatts, who took the UNC-Wilmington head coaching job earlier this spring.
Johnson spent the past two seasons at Indiana after previously spending a season as an assistant coach at Towson and he’s regarded as a major recruiter, especially on the East Coast. Johnson has deep ties to the loaded Team Takeover grassroots program in the Nike EYBL — where he’s a former coach — while also serving as a coach at high school powerhouse Paul VI in Virginia.
When Johnson replaced former Indiana assistant coach and current Samford head coach Bennie Seltzer, the new recruiting coordinator immediately paid dividends for head coach Tom Crean by helping land Stanford Robinson, as well as playing a role in the recruitments of Vonleh and Troy Williams.
Johnson struck again in the 2014 class as he helped land Richmond, Virginia native Robert Johnson — no relation — and Johnson was also active in staying on McDonald’s All-American James Blackmon Jr. after Blackmon decommitted from Indiana, only to recommit last fall.
Maryland was also in the running for Johnson, who graduated from there in 1999.
Evan Daniels of Scout.com is reporting that Indiana has hired Towson assistant Kenny Johnson to replace Bennie Seltzer, who left to take the head coaching position at Samford.
Johnson has strong ties to the Washington D.C. area, especially the Team Takeover AAU program.
That fact becomes significant when considering one of Indiana’s biggest targets in the Class of 2013, DeMatha forward BeeJay Anya.
Anya plays for Takeover and played under Johnson, before he left for Towson.
Over the past year, Anya has dropped a significant amount of weight, which has helped him to move up the 2013 rankings. At 6-8, 265 pounds, he could be a force on the interior in the Big Ten.
Other schools in the mix for Anya include UCLA, Georgetown, Florida, Syracuse, and Pittsburgh, among many others.
Crean was down at the Boo Williams tournament in Virginia this weekend to watch Anya and the rest of Team Takeover, among other prospects.
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_