University of Nebraska men's basketball coach Tim Miles announced the hiring of Ben Johnson to the Husker basketball staff on Thursday. Johnson comes to NU after spending the last four seasons at Northern Iowa, where he served as the Panthers' recruiting coordinator in 2011-12.
"I think Ben is a rising star in this business," Miles said. "He's well-organized, hard-working and great with the players. He can do it all, whether it is game planning or working guys out. I thought it was important to have a guy who's been in the Big Ten and understands the environments and understands how to win. I think that's a huge relationship builder with the players, and Ben will provide that and then some for our program."
During his tenure at Northern Iowa, the Panthers went a combined 93-77, winning at least 20 games in all four years The four straight 20-win seasons is the longest stretch in program history, and the Panthers reached postseason play in all four years, including the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2009-10. That year, the Panthers won a school-record 30 games and upset top-seeded Kansas in the second round of the NCAAs.
During his tenure at UNI, the Panthers had three first-team All-MVC selections, including 2010 Missouri Valley Conference MVP Adam Koch in 2010. Four players were named to the MVC All-Freshmen or All-Newcomer teams, including a pair in 2011-12.
Johnson had previously served two seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Texas-Pan American. He was heavily involved in recruiting, worked with the Broncs perimeter players and coordinated UTPA's summer camps. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at the University of Dayton during the 2005-06 season.
During his collegiate career, Johnson was a four-year starting guard in college at a pair of Big Ten schools. He played his first two years at Northwestern University, and his junior and senior seasons at the University of Minnesota. He scored 1,202 points during his college career and helped lead Minnesota to the National Invitation Tournament semifinals in 2003. He was also named team captain three of his years in school.
He enjoyed a standout prep career, helping lead DeLaSalle (Minn.) High School to a pair of state championships. He was a two-time first-team all-state selection in both football and basketball, and his senior year was named a Street & Smith All-American, as well as an honorable mention Nike All-American. He was listed as the 60th-best basketball player in the country by Bob Gibbons in Johnson's senior season, as he totaled more than 2,200 points during his high school career. Johnson also was listed on Tom Lemming's High School Football All-American list as a top-20 national recruit and was a two-time all-state performer on the gridiron.
A native of Minneapolis, Minn., the 31-year old Johnson received his bachelor's degree in sociology from Minnesota in 2005.