“I am very pleased to welcome Sydney Johnson as our next men’s basketball coach,” Fairfield athletic director Gene Doris said. “I think Sydney exhibits all the qualities of a successful head coach. He embraces the Jesuit philosophy, which is the cornerstone of Fairfield University, and exhibited a clear understanding of the University’s mission during the interview process.
“He leads by example, something that is quite visible when you see the passion and enthusiasm he brings to everything he does. He has been a leader throughout his career, bringing teams to the NCAA tournament as a player and as a coach. He places strong value on academics, which is evident in the success his student-athletes have achieved in the classroom.”
Johnson went 66-53 in four years at Princeton. The Tigers finished 22-9 and 25-7 in his last two years. They lost to Kentucky, 59-57, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament after outlasting Harvard in a dramatic one-game Ivy League playoff at Yale, 63-62.
Johnson takes over a loaded Fairfield team that went 25-8, 15-3 in the MAAC under former coach Ed Cooley, who took the Providence job.
Fairfield returns its top two scorers in junior guard Derek Needham (14.1) and senior forward Ryan Olander (10.4).
Linden (N.J.) guard Desmond Wade, a former All-State selection, will also become eligible after sitting out a year after transferring from Houston.
GARY BROWNE TO WEST VIRGINIA
Gary Browne, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound point guard from Puerto Rico, has committed to West Virginia for 2011, where he will join Mount Vernon’s Jabarie Hinds as the incoming floor generals.
Browne spent one year at Arlington (Va.) Country Day as a shooting guard, but developed into a point guard in Puerto Rico while working with Todd Washington of the Puerto Rico Basketball Federation.
“I’m really excited,” Browne said Monday by phone. “They got the same style of play of as my coach [Rex Morgan] at Arlington Country Day. They got great fans. I’m going to earn my four-year degree.
“They have been doing a great job recruiting me. They have been recruiting me all season. I really developed a relationship with Coach [Larry] Harrison and with Coach Huggs [Bob Huggins], too. They made a great recruitment.”
Browne said he will visit West Virginia again Wednesday.
Browne also considered Miami, but Hurricanes coach Frank Haith departed Sunday for Missouri.
West Virginia now has seven commits for 2011: Browne, the 6-foot Hinds, 6-7 PF Tommie McCune, 6-7 SF Keaton Miles, 6-5 SF Aaron Brown, 6-8 PF Dominique Rutledge and 6-10 C Pat Forysthe.
Washington, who has also mentored Florida guard Mike Rosario and USC guard Jio Fontan during their visits to Puerto Rico, thinks Browne can help West Virginia.
“He came in to Arlington Country Day, which is a top-rated program and he started after his second day of practice,” Washington told WVIllustrated.com.
“He’s got a tremendous upside in growth potential at that position, but you’re also getting a player at West Virginia that’s battle-tested internationally, that’s played at the highest level of high school ball and proven he can run a team, that he can make a major contribution defensively and most importantly, he’s a great kid. When you start talking about representing the university and representing the program, West Virginia’s getting a world-class kid.”
MONTVERDE SEEKS NEW COACH
National basketball powerhouse Montverde (Fla.) Academy is seeking a new coach after Kevin Sutton resigned.
“Yes, I did,” Sutton, who spent eight years at Montverde, confirmed Monday by phone. “It was a mutual decision. We decided to move in different directions. They will definitely be hiring a new coach.”
Asked who the candidates were, Sutton said, “All I know is Kevin Boyle and Michael Peck.“
Calls to Boyle, the St. Patrick coach, and Peck of Findlay Prep were not immediately returned.
Montverde finished 22-14 and No. 14 in the USA Today Super 25 poll.