Virginia Tech has chosen James Johnson to replace Seth Greenberg as its men’s basketball coach.
A person familiar with the talks told The Associated Press on Monday that Johnson will replace Greenberg after serving as his assistant for five years. Johnson left Virginia Tech on April 19 to take a similar job at Clemson.
The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the decision has not yet been announced. A formal announcement is expected Tuesday or Wednesday.
Greenberg was fired April 23 after nine seasons and one NCAA tournament appearance. In announcing the dismissal, athletic director Jim Weaver said that among his concerns was the departure of six assistant coaches in a span of four years.
Three assistants, and the director of basketball operations, left following this season. The only coach left on the staff after Greenberg was fired, John Richardson, was hired three hours later as an assistant on Blaine Taylor’s staff at Old Dominion.
Johnson was Greenberg’s associate head coach this season, when the Hokies finished 16-17 and 4-12 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. He has never been a head coach, but his return to Blacksburg was celebrated by several Hokies players on Twitter.
”Yessss I’ll be back next year,” scoring leader Erick Green tweeted.
”Throwing a party tonight,” power forward Cadarian Raines wrote,
And Malcolm Delaney, the Hokies’ No. 2 career scorer, tweeted: ”VTECH hired my guy JJ.. he finally will get his chance”
Johnson, 41, is viewed as a top recruiter who lured Dorian Finney-Smith, the Hokies’ top recruit last season, to Blacksburg. It’s hoped his return will allow the Hokies to maintain a semblance of stability on the recruiting trail, and to keep commitments from highly regarded 6-foot-7 Marshall Wood of Lynchburg, Va., and 6-7 forward Montrezl Harrell of Hargrave Military Academy.
A native of Powhatan, Johnson began his coaching career at Longwood College in 1995-96, then spent a season as an assistant at Hargrave before moving to Old Dominion from 1997-2000. He also has coached at Elon, College of Charleston and Penn State, and was part of Jim Larranaga’s staff at George Mason in 2006 when the Patriots made it all the way to the Final Four.