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Johnson joins Blue Raider men's basketball staff

May 23, 2006 · MT Media Relations
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Middle Tennessee Head Men's Basketball Coach Kermit Davis has announced the hiring of Thomas Johnson as the newest addition to the Blue Raider staff.

Johnson, who coached future Blue Raider Nigel Johnson at Wooddale High School, completes the Blue Raider coaching staff. Johnson and recently hired assistant Artie Pepelea complete the staff after Donnie Tyndall was named head coach at Morehead State and former assistant Matt Woodley took a job as an assistant at Washington State in the PAC 10. Al Pinkins will begin his third season on the Middle Tennessee bench with Davis.

"I'm very excited about our staff and I believe we have some very bright and hard-working coaches who will help us continue to build the Middle Tennessee basketball program," Davis said. "There was a great amount of interest in the positions and we were able to attract coaches from a wide array of programs, which is a compliment to Middle Tennessee."

Johnson comes to Middle Tennessee after overhauling the Wooddale High School program during his four seasons there. Prior to Johnson's arrival the Memphis high school endured an 0-23 season in 2001-02, but it enjoyed four straight seasons of 22 wins or more in his four years there, including a 24-9 mark in 02-03.

Wooddale, which enjoyed a 94-36 record and three seasons of 24 wins, won the district championship in 2005-06 and finished second in the district two other times. Additionally, the program reached the Region 8-AAA semifinals all four years and missed the state tournament by one game.

"The state champion came out of (Region 8-AAA) all four years I was there, but turning things around at Wooddale was really special," Johnson said. "We did it by teaching fundamentals and defense, and we demanded that our players have self-discipline on and especially off the court. I think (Davis) has the same philosophies here, and I think there are great things in store for this program."

Prior to his four seasons at Wooddale, Johnson was on Murry Bartow's UAB staff as an assistant coach for four seasons and was part of three winning seasons and a NCAA Tournament berth in 1998-99 when the squad fashioned a 20-12 mark. The successful coach led the programs at Thompson (Ala.) High School (1981-1998) and Weogufka High School (1977-81) prior to his stint at UAB.

"Coach Johnson brings some great experience to our staff after coaching at UAB, but he also has a great presence in Alabama and Memphis as a long-time high school head coach there," Davis said. "He can help us get into two areas that we haven't been in as much as we would like in recruiting and that's a big benefit. He brings a lot of experience to our staff and he's been successful wherever he has coached so we are pleased to have him as part of the Blue Raider program."

Johnson said he has watched with great interest as Davis has turned Middle Tennessee into a consistent winner during his four seasons, and he believes the sky is the limit.

"Kermit Davis has done an outstanding job at Middle Tennessee and I've been able to follow the success being at an in-state high school," Johnson said. "I love the recruiting aspect of college basketball, as well as the high level of competition. There is only one level higher and that's professional basketball. I believe my contacts in Memphis and Alabama will help us in recruiting and I've already contacted a lot of my friends who are coaching high school basketball in those areas to let them know I've relocated and am looking forward to working with them."

Johnson coached Nigel Johnson, no relation, for three seasons at Wooddale and the future Blue Raider guard had a significant impact in the program's resurgence. Nigel Johnson helped lead Wooddale to 70 wins in three seasons before helping lead Tallahassee Community College to the Junior College National Championship game in 2005-06 in his only season there. He already has signed with the Blue Raiders and will join the squad this summer.

"I'm looking forward to having the chance to coach Nigel again because he's a hard-nosed kid that makes everybody on the team better," coach Johnson said. "We won (70 games) at Wooddale when Nigel was there, and I hope the same success happens here."

Coach Johnson, who played college basketball at Montevallo (Ala.) has two daughters - Adrian (27) and Katie (18), and two sons (Marques (23) and Caleb (12).

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