BRISTOL, Tenn. – The King College basketball team has announced the hiring of Damon Johnson to serve as assistant basketball coach for the Tornado, effective immediately. Johnson's hire reunites the former Tennessee Volunteer hoopster with his high school basketball head coach, George Pitts.
"We are very excited to have Damon on our coaching staff," said Athletic Director David Hicks. " From the moment the position opened, Damon was Coach Pitts' top choice. His experiences as a Division I basketball player and professional career overseas have provided him with a tremendous knowledge of the game and unique perspective to offer our student athletes."
Johnson brings with him a 10-year professional playing career and having spent the last two years as an assistant coach for two Johnson City area schools.
"It is a true blessing to have retired just a couple of years ago and come to a place where their Christian beliefs are the number one priority then academics and athletics are also of high priority," said Johnson. "I feel like I fit right in and am thrilled about being a part of a Christian college so I may be open about my beliefs and me."
As a Johnson City native, he played for Pitts while attending Science Hill High School from 1989 to 1992. Under his tutelage, Johnson led his team to a state title in 1990 and a state runner-up finish in 1991 under Pitts. His teams won the conference title all four years of his playing career plus won three district and regional titles. He also resides in the Science Hill High School Hall of Fame.
"Damon will be good because he knows me and my coaching style," said Tornado head coach George Pitts. "His on-court coaching skills will be good because of his experience having played for me, professionally overseas and what he had done since returning from his playing career. I think given all of those things and being respected by so many, he will open up some new avenues in recruiting."
On his reunion with Coach Pitts, Johnson said, "He [Pitts] helped me grow up and his ways made me who I am. Now I thank him for teaching me his way. I'm excited to begin learning from one of the best coaches in this area and the state of Tennessee, period."
Following a one-year stint at Hiwassee Junior College (Madisonville, Tenn.) where he was named a First-Team All-American, Johnson transferred to the University of Tennessee and played for the Volunteers from 1994 to 1996. In his three years at UT he was a two-year starter, voted Best Team Player in 1995 and Most Versatile Player after his senior season in 1996.
After graduating from Tennessee in 1996 with a bachelors degree in Child Psychology, Johnson played professionally in Europe for ten seasons. He began his professional career playing in Iceland before relocating to Spain. Johnson was named Iceland League MVP in consecutive seasons from 1997-1999 and led his team to three Icelandic Regular Season Championships. In 2003, he guided his team to a 2003 Icelandic Cup championship and was named to the All-Star team twice. While playing in Spain, he was named to one All-Star team, won a league championship and was named to the Spanish All-Defensive Team in 2006. In addition, Johnson earned a silver medal playing with Iceland in the 2002 Small Nations Olympics.
In 2009, Johnson returned to Tennessee and began teaching in the Johnson City school system. Upon his return he taught at South Doyle High School and was the assistant coach for the boys' basketball team. He spent 2010 teaching in special education classrooms while serving as the seventh grade boys' basketball coach at Indian Trail Middle School.
Johnson adds to the Tornado basketball staff that is comprised of sixth-year head coach George Pitts and Assistant Coach Nick Pasqua.
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