Louisville adds veteran coach Trent Johnson to basketball staff
By GARY B. GRAVES, AP Sports Writer
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Louisville interim coach David Padgett has hired Trent Johnson as an assistant.
The move to add the former head coach to the staff fills the vacancy created when the school named Padgett to replace Rick Pitino last month in the wake of a national federal investigation of bribery in college basketball.
Johnson's 36-year career includes 17 as a head coach, most recently at TCU from 2012-16. He also has coached at Nevada (1999-2004), Stanford (2004-08) and LSU (2008-12), and been an assistant at several schools. Padgett said he had contacted "dozens" of candidates and gotten a lot of calls since taking over the Cardinals Sept. 29 after one season as a Louisville assistant.
Padgett said during a news conference Wednesday that experience was the key factor in his search resulting in Johnson's selection.
"I literally could not have hired a better guy," Padgett said. "He's going to be great for me to lean on from an experience standpoint, a basketball coaching standpoint and he's going to be absolutely incredible for our guys."
Johnson's hiring comes before the school's Athletics Association meets Monday to discuss terminating Pitino, who has been on unpaid administrative leave since Sept. 27. That board last week authorized university interim President Greg Postel to begin the process of firing the Hall of Fame coach after 16 seasons.
Louisville's staff underwent more change Wednesday night, as the school announced it had "parted ways" with assistant coach Jordan Fair, who had been on paid administrative leave. A school release stated that it exercised an option in his contract to terminate him without cause and will pay him for 30 days.
Associate coach Kenny Johnson remains on paid leave as the investigation continues. Staffers Michael Bowden, Logan Baumann and R.J. Evans were placed in temporary coaching roles Friday, though Padgett said one of them will return to his previous role now that he has a full-time assistant.
Padgett said things have started to slow down on the court, allowing him to focus on strategy. For his part, Johnson expects to help his son's former Nevada high school teammate through a whirlwind transition of leading one of the nation's elite programs.
"I'm ready to do whatever coach wants me to do," said Johnson, who was 276-264 as a head coach, including 80-48 at Stanford. "I've known coach a long, long time, but nothing surprises me because his maturity when he was 18 and I was 30 was so impressive. ... My role is to give him advice where he needs it."
Louisville will conduct the first of two Red/White public scrimmages Friday night, with the second Oct. 27. The Cardinals open the season Nov. 12 against George Mason.
The Cardinals have practiced without 6-foot-7 freshman Brian Bowen, who is still enrolled at Louisville. The player's name was not released by federal prosecutors, but details in the criminal complaint make it clear investigators were referring to the high school All-American.
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