Former University of Cincinnati men’s basketball standout DerMarr Johnson has returned to the program as a student assistant coach Bearcats head coach Mick Cronin has announced.
Johnson will assist the program while taking classes to complete his degree at UC.
“He loves basketball, Cronin said. “It’s a chance for him to pursue his degree. Obviously, we’re the beneficiary of it because the kids can be around somebody that played at the highest level and has seen everything.”
The sixth pick in the 2000 NBA draft by the Atlanta Hawks, Johnson played one season at Cincinnati, earning Conference USA Freshman of the Year accolades while averaging 12.6 points and 3.8 rebounds during the 1999-2000 campaign. On a team that featured National Player of the Year Kenyon Martin and third-team All-American Pete Mickeal, as well as Steve Logan and Kenny Satterfield, Johnson helped guide the Bearcats to a 29-4 overall record and the league’s regular-season title while ranking as the nation’s No. 1 team for 12 weeks.
Johnson played two seasons with the Hawks, averaging 8.4 points and 3.4 rebounds in 2001-02. He overcame injuries sustained from an automobile accident in September 2002 to play parts of five more seasons in the league with the New York Knicks, Denver Nuggets and briefly with the San Antonino Spurs. He averaged 17 points and shot 49.9 percent with Denver during the 2004-05 season.
Following his NBA career, Johnson traveled the world playing professional basketball in China, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Colombia, Lebanon, the Philippines, Argentina, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic.
As an assistant under former UC head coach Bob Huggins, Cronin recruited Johnson, a consensus high school All-American, to the Cincinnati program.
“When Mick reached out to me I didn’t know if I was going to go play (professionally) this year or not,” Johnson said. “It seemed like a good idea. When I came back here for (football) homecoming I felt love from people here who I didn’t think would even remember me because I was here for a short time. But they did and everybody seemed like they were happy to see me. I love how much (Cronin) has grown since he first recruited me. We’re all older and more mature and more experienced now. Mick was always my guy.”
A 6-9, 200-pound guard from Riverdale, Maryland, Johnson averaged 26.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists at Maine Central Institute in 1998-99 prior to becoming a Bearcat.