James Johnson out at NC State, potential impact on Dillingham

James Johnson is out at NC State. According to a report from The Wolfpacker, Johnson, an assistant coach for the men’s basketball program, will step down.

Johnson has been with head coach Kevin Keatts since the start of his tenure with NC State. He was hired March 27, 2017.

Johnson arrived in Raleigh after two years as the Director of Basketball Operations for Miami — under Jim Larranaga. The ACC ties for Johnson run deep, though; he was also the head of Virginia Tech for two seasons (2012-14).

Prior to serving as head coach, Johnson spent the previous five seasons on the basketball staff at VT. He was an assistant coach from 2007-11; after which, Johnson was promoted to associate head coach for the 2011-12 season. The Hokies compiled a record of 103-67 while Johnson was an assistant on Seth Greenberg’s coaching staff.

Keatts and Johnson have known one another for decades. The two were teammates on the basketball team at Ferrum College for two years (1991-93). A native of Powhatan, Va., Johnson was a four-year player and three-year starter at Ferrum College.

Since the 2017-18 season, NC State — under Keatts — has won 57 percent of its games: 90-68. However, the Pack went to only one NCAA Tournament in that span, losing in 2018 to Seton Hall.

The departure of Johnson is interesting, though. Earlier this offseason — back in March — NC State parted ways with two assistant coaches: Roy Roberson and Mike Summey. The Wolfpack went 11-21 in the 2021-22 season, finishing last in the conference (4-16 ACC).

Subsequently, NC State added two new men to the staff: Levi Watkins and Kareem Richardson. Now, weeks later, Johnson will depart, too, after he was the lead recruiter for La Salle transfer/commit Jack Clark.

Johnson was also NC State’s lead recruiter for (2023) 5-star point guard Robert Dillingham — who committed to NC State last December, then de-committed in March. Dillingham remains uncommitted; NC State, in theory, was still considered an option. However, if Johnson is out, that may forecast another hinge point in NC State’s recruitment of the uber-talented Dillingham.

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