The Wolfpacker

May 2017 Issue

The Wolfpacker: An Independent Magazine Covering NC State Sports

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Page 35 of 87

36 ■ THE WOLFPACKER Keatts played for Ferrum from 1991-95, while Johnson was with the Panthers from 1989-93. Johnson was the glue guy at forward and did the little things for Ferrum, like get the ball to Keatts. "Kevin Keatts was a scorer and a winner coming in from high school," Johnson re- membered. "You could tell right off he had leadership quality. He was a quarterback on a high school football team that went to the state championship. "He was a tough kid, he could score the ball and he was a leader. He also became a heck of a defensive player." The 45-year-old Johnson came to Raleigh from Miami, where he served as director of operations the last two years. The former Virginia Tech head coach (22-41 record in two years from 2012-14) and assistant coach (2007-12) has extensively recruited the East Coast over the years. He also previously was an assistant coach at George Mason, Penn State, College of Charleston, Elon, Old Dominion and Longwood. Johnson was also an assistant coach at Hargrave from 1996-97, and Keatts was an assistant there from 1997-99 before start- ing the first of two stints as the school's head coach. Johnson is excited for this new chapter in his coaching career at NC State, and hopes to aid Keatts in whatever ways are needed. "Outside of his wife and probably coach Rick Pitino [at Louisville], I was prob- ably one of the next people to know he got hired at NC State," Johnson said. "It's like watching your brother walk across the stage at graduation or having his first kid. It's very prideful, happy and joyful." Johnson has been able to soak in knowl- edge from Miami head coach Jim Lar- ranaga, both in Coral Gables, Fla., and during their time together at George Ma- son (2005-07). Johnson was alongside Larranaga when they experienced the joy ride of reaching the 2006 Final Four with George Mason. LONGTIME CONNECTION Former College Teammates James Johnson And Kevin Keatts Are Reunited In Raleigh Johnson (right) and Keatts played college basketball together at Ferrum College in the early 1990s. PHOTO BY JC RIDLEY/CANESHOOTER.COM BY JACEY ZEMBAL N C State hired Kevin Keatts from North Caro- lina Wilmington March 17 to be its 20th men's basketball head coach, and he quickly brought in his former college teammate James Johnson as his first assistant coach hire. "James and I go back over 25 years, and my comfort level in his approach, his knowledge of the ACC, and my respect for his ability to teach and develop our stu- dent-athletes, makes him an ideal fit," Keatts said. "He is an outstanding addition to our staff, and I welcome him to NC State."

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