Former NBA coach Avery Johnson has been hired to become the head coach at Alabama.
"Coach Johnson has an impressive record from the professional ranks, as both a player and a head coach," Alabama athletic director Bill Battle said in a statement Monday. "His personal history is a testament to what character, enthusiasm, perseverance, talent and intelligence can do. He has shown fortitude and skill in every opportunity."
Johnson, who played 16 years in the league and was a point guard on the 1999 champion San Antonio Spurs, achieved his greatest coaching success with the Mavericks. Dallas won 60 games twice, and Johnson was the NBA Coach of the Year in 2006 after guiding the Mavs to the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Miami Heat in six games.
"I just got really excited by it," Johnson told AL.com on Monday. "I was thinking this could be a different challenge, a different opportunity so I thought with my skill set, I could best help in terms of leadership, character development, help players who aspire to be NBA players, help them reach their goals with my wealth of knowledge and resources."
His son, Avery Johnson Jr., also plays in the SEC as a freshman point guard at Texas A&M.
"He's excited for me in this new challenge," Johnson told AL.com. "He's always wanted me to coach in college. He didn't want me to go back to the NBA. ... It was a family decision and my kids were really pushing me to do this. As excited as I was, they were five times as excited."
Alabama swung and missed on Wichita State's Gregg Marshall earlier in the week after offering him a deal worth $4 million per year. Marshall opted to stay with the Shockers on a seven-year deal worth $3 million annually, sources said.
The Crimson Tide fired Anthony Grant last month after six seasons in which he went 117-85.
"I am confident that Avery will provide our student-athletes with the best qualities of leadership: commitment, hard work, enthusiasm, poise, confidence, and pride," Battle said in the news release. "I am very excited about having Avery join the Crimson Tide family. Not only do I believe that he will be an excellent head coach, but I am also convinced that he will be a tremendous example to our student-athletes in all areas on and off the court."