Head Coach Kevin Johnson
SHREVEPORT, LA -- Kevin Johnson, an assistant with the Centenary's men's basketball program for the past two seasons, will be named head coach of the Gents at a 2 p.m. news conference today (March 30, 1999).
Johnson becomes the 18th head coach in Centenary's 76 years of basketball. In addition, he becomes the first black head coach of any sport in Centenary's rich tradition of athletics that stretches over 100 years.
Johnson replaces Billy Kennedy, who left Centenary last week to become the head coach at Southeastern Louisiana University after spending two years in Shreveport.
"I'm excited to have the opportunity to be a head coach at the Division I level," Johnson said. "My focus is on the core group of players we have returning first and then recruiting. The most important things are that our players are taking care of business academically and basketball wise and that they get better."
The Morgan City native takes over a team that was 14-14 last season and advanced to the semifinals of the Trans America Athletic Conference Tournament.
"I'm very pleased to announce the hiring of Kevin Johnson as men's basketball coach," said Centenary Director of Athletics Russ Sharp. "Kevin has been a valued member of our staff the last two years and I am confident Kevin is capable of handling this type of challenge.
"I've known for quite some time that if the opportunity presented itself, Kevin would be a great candidate for this position and that he will be able to continue the momentum and forward progress that Billy Kennedy started two years ago."
Sharp's sentiments were echoed by Centenary President Dr. Kenneth L. Schwab and the departing Kennedy.
"I am pleased with the progress of our basketball program over the last two years and I know Coach Johnson has been an important part of that," Schwab said. "I am sure he will be an asset to our school and our basketball program."
Kennedy added, "Kevin will be an outstanding head coach. His work ethic in recruiting makes him one of the best recruiters in this part of the country.
"Kevin is an excellent choice for the position. He has been an integral part of building this (Centenary's) program and he is the best choice for the team that is in place to continue progress."
Centenary is Johnson's first head coaching position at the collegiate level, but the 32-year old does have experience as a player/head coach in Europe.
Johnson held that position with the Oldham Celtics in England's Carlsburg League for two seasons and led the Celtics to a league title during the 1991-92 campaign.
Coaches at both the collegiate and professional level are confident in Johnson's abiltiy. "Kevin is one of the hardest working young coaches in our profession," said Lon Kruger, who coached Johnson (1984-85 and 1985-86) at Texas-Pan American. "He is a very knowlegeable coach and will represent Centenary College in a first-class way both on and off the court," added the current Illinois head coach.
Bill Peterson, an assistant with the National Basketball Association's Dallas Mavericks, stated, "He (Johnson) is a really solid guy with a great basketball background. I think Kevin is a super hire as a head coach because he can relate to the kids and get them to overachieve. I think he was an overachiever as a player and I think his players will take on his personality."