MHERST - The University of Massachusetts men's basketball team filled out its coaching staff and its backcourt in the same day.
The long-expected hiring of ex-Minuteman star Tony Barbee to fill the assistant coaching vacancy created when John Robic left to become head coach at Youngstown State in Ohio became official Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Minutemen reportedly have received a commitment from a junior college guard.
Jovan Johnson, a 6-foot-3 guard out of Wabash Community College in Mt. Carmel, Ill. reportedly will become a Minuteman in the fall.
Johnson visited UMass last week and apparently enjoyed his trip because he told the Minuteman staff he plans to enroll in the fall.
Because Johnson's commitment comes after the last letter-of-intent signing period, Johnson's decision isn't binding until he begins classes in September.
Johnson is primarily a shooting guard and is considered an excellent athlete and solid offensive player. He gives the Minutemen a fourth scholarship guard to join Monty Mack, Jonathan DePina and Shannon Crooks.
It's been a good June for Barbee. The former Minuteman got married earlier this month and Tuesday was named an assistant coach at his alma mater.
"We're glad to get Tony back," said UMass coach Bruiser Flint. "We missed some of the things he brought last year. He had an unbelievable rapport with the players and is an incredible teacher. We think he learned some good things about recruiting from the staff at Wyoming."
After Robic's departure, Geoff Arnold was promoted to associate coach at UMass, while Barbee will assume the No. 2 assistant's role. Mike Connors will remain in the non-recruiting assistants role.
Barbee just finished his first season as an assistant coach at Wyoming, where he helped lead the Cowboys to an 18-10 record and an NIT berth. Prior to that, Barbee was the third assistant on the UMass staff for the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons.
Barbee is in the top 10 in 14 Minuteman career offensive categories. He is fourth on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,643 points.
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College coaches can officially begin making contact with high school seniors-to-be next month and Flint is anxious to get started.
"I'm looking forward to July and getting things going," he said. "I think we'll have a good recruiting class because we have scholarships available and playing time to offer kids, which we really haven't in the past few years."
ormer University of Massachusetts men's basketball star Tony Barbee is returning to the program as an assistant coach.
Barbee's selection was announced yesterday by coach Bruiser Flint. An opening was created on the staff last month when associate coach John Robic, the No. 2 man on the staff, was named head coach at Youngstown State.
Flint said last month that Geoff Arnold would be elevated to Robic's spot as associate coach. No official announcement has been made, but Arnold's promotion is expected and would create an opening for an assistant that Barbee will fill.
Barbee graduated from UMass in 1993 and ranks fourth on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,643 points. He was a UMass assistant coach from 1996-98, and last year served as an assistant at Wyoming, which reached the National Invitation Tournament and ranked 10th in the country with an average of 81.6 points per game.
"I'm excited to bring Tony back to Massachusetts, because he's part of the UMass family," Flint said. "Tony has established himself as a good coach and recruiter at Wyoming and here at UMass, and his work ethic and diligence to detail are welcome attributes that will contribute to our success."
Barbee's ability to recruit, and to communicate with young players, were considered positive additions to a staff that has struggled on both fronts lately. While Wyoming went 18-10 last year, UMass slumped to 14-16 and missed the postseason for the first time since 1989, the year before Barbee came to UMass as a player.
Barbee's experience with Wyoming's fast-paced offense may help, too. UMass is expected to try to pick up the pace next season after an abortive attempt to do so last year, a season in which the Minutemen averaged 64.3 points.
Barbee could not be reached for comment.