The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) Men’s Basketball Head Coach Matt Figger announced on Monday the hiring of assistant coach Nikita Johnson, who worked with Figger at Austin Peay the last two seasons.
Over the last two years, Johnson helped Austin Peay to 35-25 (.583) record, including a 21-win season in 2019-20.
“Nikita and I have a 30-year relationship with one another. I have a very high comfort level with him,” Figger said. “He brings a wealth of experience with over 35 years of coaching college basketball, including a Final Four appearance. He’s coached and recruited at the highest level and has done every aspect of what needs to be done by a coach at a Division I program. He’s a very valuable asset to our program.”
Johnson started his coaching career in 1981 at Chipola College, where he was part of six conference titles before serving two seasons at West Georgia and two more at Odessa College.
Johnson made the jump to NCAA Division I in 1993 in his first of two seasons as an assistant coach at Murray State. He has also assisted on staffs at Duquesne (1995-98), Tennessee State (1998), New Orleans (1998-2004), LSU (2004-07), Louisiana Tech (2007-10), Louisiana (2010-12), Stetson (2013-17) and Western Kentucky (2017-19).
While at LSU, Johnson helped his team to an SEC West title and the 2006 Final Four.
Johnson has a proven track record of developing players to play professionally, with more than 50 players moving on to the next level, including NBA players Brandon Bass, Glen Davis, Mike James, Moochie Norris, Elfrid Payton, and Tyrus Thomas.
“I am very excited about the opportunity to join the UTRGV Family,” Johnson said. “This program suffered a devastating loss with the passing of Coach Lew Hill, who I had known since the early 90’s. Coach Figger is the right hire to build and advance this program to successful heights that it has not experienced. He has a vision and will implement a work ethic that will not be beaten. I am excited that he believes I can contribute to the future success of this program and we will hit the ground running on all cylinders.”
Originally from Greenwood, Fla., Johnson earned all-region, all-county, and all-district honors at Marianna High School. He helped his team go 76-10 in three seasons, including two runner-up finishes in the state playoffs in 1977 and 1978.”
Johnson earned his Associate of Arts degree at Chipola in 1981 and his Bachelor of Arts at West Georgia in 1989.