Johnson named Assistant Basketball Coach at Charlotte

Charlotte Head Men’s Basketball Coach Aaron Fearne has officially announced the hiring of assistant coach Ben Johnson Thursday afternoon. Johnson brings nearly 30 years of coaching experience in both the collegiate ranks and in Australia to the 49ers.

“We are very thrilled to add Ben Johnson to this coaching staff,” said Coach Fearne. “I have had the pleasure of knowing Ben for decades and as the consummate professional, he brings a wealth of experience and knowledge.”

Johnson arrives in the Queen City after serving as the Associate Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Northern Arizona in 2023-24. Prior to coaching the Lumberjacks last season, Johnson was an assistant coach at San Jose State from 2021 to 2023. He also had a five-year stint at the University of Portland, serving as an assistant coach, as well as interim head coach for four games with the Pilots in 2020-21.

“My family & I are extremely excited to join Coach Fearne and the Charlotte basketball community,” said Johnson. “I am thankful for the opportunity to join a successful program like Charlotte and help them advance to that next level of elite collegiate competition, which is winning championships. It is an exciting time in the program, under Coach Fearne’s leadership. Great things are possible at Charlotte.”

In April 2004, Johnson was hired by Dick Bennett at Washington State to serve as an assistant coach. Johnson played under Dick Bennett as a student-athlete at Wisconsin-Green Bay and was a teammate of then-Cougars associate head coach and current Virginia head coach Tony Bennett.

In nine years (2004-2013) with Washington State, Johnson helped the Cougars reach back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2007-08, plus a pair of NIT Tournament appearances. Washington State had consecutive 26-win seasons from 2006 to 2008, which tied a program record. In the 2007-2008 campaign, the Cougars were ranked as high as No. 4 in the nation, the highest ranking in school history. Washington State’s calling card during that span was its defense as the Cougars led the nation in scoring defense in 2008-09 and finished third in 2007-08.

Johnson is also credited with having a major role in the recruitment and development of Klay Thompson and Aron Baynes during his time in Pullman, Wash.

Following his time at Washington State, Johnson served as the South State Performance Manager for Basketball Queensland in Australia from 2013 to 2016. As program director, he oversaw the development and coached the top high-performance athletes of Queensland from the U14-U20 age group.

In his three years with the South State program, Johnson captured two Gold, three Silver, and two Bronze medals at the prestigious Australian Junior National Championships between the U16, U18, and U20 National levels.

His experience with Australia and the Australian Basketball Association began as a player in 1993. Upon graduating, Johnson played with Cairns Marlins until 1995 and he also played with the Kuiyam Pride in 2002-2003, in addition to serving as the head coach for the Kuiyam Pride U23. With the Kuiyam Pride, he identified, recruited, and coached Nathan Jawai, the first Indigenous Australian to play in the NBA.

Fearne and Johnson crossed paths in Australia as Fearne, who is from Cairns, Queensland, Australia, also played for the Cairns Marlins (1998-2005). As head coach of the Cairns Taipans Academy from 2001 to 2008, Fearne helped develop former NBA players Aron Baynes and Nathan Jawai. Baynes trained at the academy under Fearne in 2003-04 before being recruited by Johnson to play for Washington State in 2005 and Jawai played for Fearne and the Taipans after being discovered by Johnson and the Kuiyam Pride.

Johnson starred at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay from 1988 to 1992. In his Phoenix career, Johnson started 79 of the 119 games he appeared in and helped lead UW-Green Bay to three postseason appearances, including the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance in 1991.

Johnson also got his start coaching in the collegiate ranks at UW-Green Bay as an assistant coach in 1995. He served in that capacity until 2002 and in his tenure, he helped the Phoenix win a Horizon League regular season championship and claim three straight NCAA Tournament appearances. Johnson was inducted into the Phoenix Hall of Fame in 2007.

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