Avery Johnson is headed to Alabama and he has an unlikely supporter across the state in his corner.
“It’s a great hire,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said Monday on WJOX-FM.
Johnson’s hiring at Alabama has not yet been made official, but he is expected to be announced soon by the Tide. The former NBA coach adds yet another high-profile name in the SEC coaching rankings, joining Rick Barnes at Tennessee and Ben Howland at Mississippi State as the most recent additions.
Pearl and Johnson worked as analysts at ESPN up until their hirings at Auburn and Alabama, respectively. Pearl led Auburn to a 15-20 record, including a three-win march through the SEC Tournament, in his first season.
“Avery is a good man and a great coach,” Pearl said. “He’ll be a great addition to the league and to the state of basketball in Alabama. I say that wishing that Anthony Grant was still the coach because Anthony did a really good job. And as a member of our coaching profession we hate when guys who do a good job can’t keep their job. At the same time we probably need to do better than good to be able to keep a job like Alabama, so I understand that. It’s a tough, tough situation to be in. We’ve added some great coaches to the league and I think the results are going to be that the league is going to continue to get better.”
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