Florida A&M’s newly appointed head basketball coach, Clemon “CJ” Johnson Jr., is ready for the task of improving the FAMU men’s basketball program.
Johnson was a premier player for the Rattlers from 1974-78, and still holds FAMU’s rebounding records, which includes: most rebounds in a game (25), most rebounds for a season (412) and most rebounds for a career with 1,494.
“He knows a lot about the game, and he has a lot of experience,” last year’s starting forward and leading scorer, Amin Stevens, said.
“My vision for this team is to win the MEAC and get into the NCAA playoffs,” Johnson said. “The bigger picture is to build this program into a low-mid level basketball team.”
Johnson plans on getting the team to understand his approach to the game and his style of building a program.
“What I need them to understand is that I played 10 years in the NBA, and five years overseas. I still came and got my degree. They have to understand that they need to have a ‘Plan B,'” Johnson said.
Johnson reported that strength and conditioning will be done by the personnel hired to train players.
“I am the type of coach and individual that believes in specializing,” Johnson said. “If you have an individual that is the weightlifting coach, you let him do his job.”
Johnson has also talked with the track coach, Wayne Angel, to find out what drills he will incorporate for his basketball players to add more speed to the players.
“I grew up with an old philosophy that you can get into good shape by running sprints, and also increase your speed,” he said. “We need guys with faster feet.”
He also looks to open the offense, to allow everyone to do what they are good at doing.
“I’m putting everyone in a position that will benefit the Rattler’s basketball program,” he said. “I want them to be able to play basketball when they are on the floor.”
“This upcoming season, we have high expectations for ourselves because we’re bringing back the majority of the team from last year,” Stevens said. “The chemistry with the team just feels better already.”
Johnson, a Monticello native and FAMU alumnus, has gained support from the community. He will also take on the task of improving attendance in the Al Lawson Center. He is hopeful that he can get the FAMU student body on board with his program.
“We have to win, but we need everyone’s support for at least the first three games,” he said. “A lot of the community has given me their word that they will be there in support. If you are not pleased with what you see at that point, then I will apologize to the fans, but at least give us the first three games.”
With a tall task in front of him, Johnson still finds simple joys to help displace the pressure.
“I’m quite excited about being home,” said coach Johnson. “I’m excited that everyone has accepted me.”