The Minnesota Gophers have their guy as the school announced that they have hired Ben Johnson to replace Richard Pitino.
"If you would've told me at any point that this was the trajectory, I would've said you were crazy."— Minnesota Men's Basketball (@GopherMBB) March 23, 2021
We're honored to have Minneapolis native and #Gophers alum Ben Johnson lead our program! Catch up with the new head coach as he sits down with Mike Grimm! pic.twitter.com/JjwqMmHOCV
Ben Johnson played college basketball at Northwestern before transferring and finishing his career with Minnesota from 2002 to 2004. He spent some time as an assistant coach, including a member of Pitino’s staff from 2013 to 2018. He was currently an assistant coach for Xavier before the Gophers hired him as their next head coach.
Johnson made waves in his initial run with the Gophers on the recruiting trail, including helping the team land Amir Coffey, Daniel Oturu and a number of key recruits from in-state. With Minnesota struggling as of late to keep local talent from heading elsewhere, it’s likely the hiring of Johnson was influenced by their belief he can keep some of the bigger recruits from Minnesota from leaving the state.
“The University of Minnesota is such a special place and has impacted me in immeasurable ways on and off the court,” said Johnson. “I want to thank President Joan Gabel, Mark Coyle, Julie Manning and everyone involved in the search process for believing in me and trusting me to lead this historic program. I am ready to get to work.”
Johnson is set to receive a five-year contract from the school, pending approval from the board of regents.
“Ben is a proven coach who is ready to lead his own program,” said Minnesota athletic director Mark Coyle. “He has earned this opportunity and is a tremendous teacher, recruiter and relationship builder. I am thrilled for him to lead his alma mater and I am excited for the future of our men’s basketball program.”