Former Cincinnati, NBA player DerMarr Johnson named to WVU coaching staff

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — One of Bob Huggins’ former players is set to join the WVU coaching staff. Huggins has hired DerMarr Johnson to fill the vacancy created when the University parted ways with Larry Harrison late last week.

According to WVU, Johnson will begin his duties once all policies and procedures adopted by the University for new hires are complete.

Johnson is a native of Washington, D.C. He comes to West Virginia from the University of Cincinnati, where he has served as director of player development for the men’s basketball program since May 2021.

UC’s DerMarr Johnson pulls down a rebound (Photo by Craig Ruttle/Cincinnati Enquirer/USA Today Network)

“Obviously, DerMarr is a guy who I know very well. He has a great amount of experience from being the national player of the year in high school, to the Conference USA Freshman of the Year, to the NBA and to a 16-year professional basketball career,” said Huggins.

“He’s extremely well-liked by former players, coaches and fans alike. He has a tremendous presence in the Washington, D.C. area, being one of the most-recognized athletes to come out of there in a long time. I’m thrilled that he’s joining our program and look forward to him getting on the court.”

“I’m excited for this opportunity to work with my coach, and I’m looking forward to getting to know and working with the players and staff,” Johnson said. “I can’t wait to get started to help this basketball program.”

Johnson was selected by the Atlanta Hawks with the No. 6 pick in the 2000 NBA Draft. He played in 344 games over seven seasons in the NBA with the Hawks, Knicks, Nuggets and Spurs. Johnson later played professionally for a decade in China, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Colombia, Lebanon, the Philippines, Argentina, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Johnson was sidelined for the 2002-2003 NBA season after suffering serious injuries in an automobile accident. Johnson was fitted with a halo after four vertebrae in his neck were cracked.

“Had it not been for an unfortunate car accident, [Johnson] would have probably been one of the great players that everyone still to this day talks about,” Huggins said.

In his lone season playing for Huggins at Cincinnati, Johnson averaged 13.0 points and 3.7 rebounds in being named Conference USA Freshman of the Year. The Bearcats finished 29-4 that season.

Johnson was a consensus McDonald’s, Parade Magazine and USA Today high school All-American as well as Parade’s National High School Player of the Year in 1999 at Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield, Maine.

“He is a guy who can really relate to young people. I think he can really relate to our guys,” Huggins said. “As they say he has been there and done that. I guess he is a lot closer to their age than I am.

“The combination of he and Alex Ruoff, I mean how can you not get better? I think Alex is absolutely fantastic in what he does and DJ is equally as fantastic in what he does.”

Huggins expects that Johnson will recruit the Washington, D.C. metro area.

“Everybody in the D.C. area knows who DerMarr is and knows what he has done and knows what he stands for. I think he is a guy that can not just open a lot of doors for us but help us close some doors,” Huggins said.

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