Minnesota Basketball Staff Update

University of Minnesota men’s basketball coach Ben Johnson, whose contract is subject to Board of Regents approval, announced two additions to his staff today in assistant coaches Dave Thorson and Jason Kemp

“I am thrilled to add Dave and Jason to our staff,” said Johnson. “These are two exceptional coaches who have strong connections to Minnesota, the Midwest and unique pockets throughout the country. They are outstanding men who care deeply about student-athlete success on and off the court, and they will be tremendous ambassadors for our program, department and University. They believe in our vision – one that is built upon toughness, grit, pride and love of competition – and I look forward to building this program with them.” 

Thorson’s name is practically synonymous with amateur basketball in Minnesota. He was previously a Minnesota assistant coach from 1990-94 and then coached DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis for 23 years. At DeLaSalle, Thorson guided his teams to nine state championships, which included six consecutive and an overall record of 527-130. 

The nine state championships are the most by a coach in state history while the six-year championship streak is also a state record. His teams also finished as state runners-up twice, third once and fourth once. 

Thorson’s teams captured 20 Tri-Metro Conference championships and won a conference record 72-straight games from 1998-02. He was named the Minnesota Class 3A Coach of the Year two times and was inducted into the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame in October 2019. 

Thorson, who coached Johnson at DeLaSalle, began his career as an assistant at South Dakota in 1989. He spent the past three seasons as an assistant at Colorado State after previously serving as an assistant at Drake for one season.

Kemp is a Madison, Wis., native, who returns to the state of Minnesota after spending two seasons as an assistant coach at William & Mary. He helped lead William & Mary to a 21-11 mark in 2019-20. 

Prior to his time in Virginia, Kemp found success as an assistant at Ohio, Toledo and North Dakota State. He has nearly 15 years of Division I experience as an assistant coach and started his career at Minnesota State University Moorhead where he spent the 2004-05 season.

At Ohio, the Bobcats enjoyed the biggest turnaround in school history in Kemp’s second year on the bench. Ohio finished the 2015-16 season with a 23-12 record and a 13-game improvement over the prior season. 

Kemp spent one season at Toledo and helped the Rockets to a school-record 27 wins and a regular-season MAC Championship in 2013-14. 

His first Division I coaching stop came at North Dakota State, where he spent eight seasons, including the final six as an assistant coach. After getting his start at Minnesota State University Moorhead in 2004-05, Kemp moved to Fargo and was a graduate manager in 2005-06 and 2006-07 for the Bison.  

During its transition to the Division I level, Kemp was promoted to an assistant coach prior to the 2007-08 season. During his eight seasons at North Dakota State, the Bison finished with a 144-97 record, including a 108-77 mark during his six years as an assistant.

Kemp has recruited and mentored four league players of the year and eight all-conference first-team selections. He played four years at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and earned his bachelor’s degree in exercise sport science in 2004. He also received a master’s degree in sports management from North Dakota State in 2007. 


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