On March 7, 1999, Trent Johnson made a commitment to become the 15th head coach of the University of Nevada basketball program. Since that day, Johnson has elevated the program to new heights and brought a whole new attitude to Lawlor Events Center.
Now in his fifth season at the helm of the Wolf Pack, Johnson has been the architect of Nevada's rise to the upper echelon of the Western Athletic Conference. His passion for teaching the game of basketball has transformed a mediocre squad, prior to his arrival, into a championship caliber team.
Last season, he guided the Wolf Pack to an 18-14 overall record, its most wins since the 1996-97 season, and the championship game of the WAC Tournament. Johnson's rebuilding project was capped off by an appearance in the National Invitation Tournament.
True to form, Johnson is not one to rest on his laurels. He is continually striving to take his program to the next level. Johnson's brand of basketball is simple: hard work, dedication, discipline and defense. That philosophy and his relentless drive have led Johnson to be named one of the Top 10 Coaches on the Rise by Athlon Sports Magazine.
But in typical Johnson fashion, he continues to focus on the fundamentals of the game. "Our improvement as a program will still be based on the philosophy that you must defend and rebound," says Johnson. "We are an aggressive team on both ends of the floor."
Johnson also has strong professional ties throughout the nation. He played four years of intercollegiate basketball at Boise State University in the mid-to-late 1970's and spent most of his assistant coaching days at universities on the west coast.
Over the years his connections have turned into valuable relationships with high school and junior college coaches. In turn this has resulted in the successful signing of student athletes from talent-rich recruiting areas.
"I have been very fortunate to be around some very good basketball coaches," Johnson says. "I have been equally as fortunate to be around some outstanding basketball players." Johnson has coached or recruited many former and current National Basketball Association players. Prior to accepting the position of head coach at the University of Nevada, Johnson spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Stanford University in Stanford, California. He helped guide the Cardinal to three NCAA Tournament appearances, including the Final Four in 1997-98 with head coach Mike Montgomery. Johnson was also instrumental in Stanford's 1998-99 Top 10 recruiting class.
Before his three-year stint at Stanford, Johnson spent four years (1992-96) at Rice University in Houston, Texas. During his four seasons with the Owls, Rice made an appearance in the NIT.
In 1989-92, Johnson was assistant coach in charge of recruiting at the University of Washington in Seattle for head coach Lynn Nance. Johnson's 1991-92 recruiting class included two of the top five newcomers in the Pacific-10 and PAC-10 Freshman of the Year, Mark Pope. Pope later transferred to Kentucky and won a National Championship with the Wildcats.
Johnson began his Division I coaching career at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City for head coach Lynn Archibald. It was at Utah that Johnson established himself as a top recruiter. He signed Josh Grant, the 1990 WAC Most Valuable Player and Naismith Award finalist. He was also responsible for recruiting Jimmy Soto, a finalist for the College Little Big Man Award. The Utes made two trips to the NIT during Johnson's three seasons in Salt Lake.
Johnson, a successful player himself, lettered four years at Boise State from 1974-78 for head coach Bus Connor. Determination and persistence were a part of Johnson's repertoire as a player. During his sophomore season (1975-76), the Broncos won the Big Sky Conference Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament with Mike Montgomery, future Stanford head coach, as an assistant.
The following year (1976-77), Johnson was named Boise State's Most Improved Player and as a senior (1977-78) he was BSU's Most Inspirational Player. He also earned All-Big Sky Conference honors in final season in Boise. Johnson still ranks in several categories in the Bronco record book, including ninth in scoring with 1,155 points. He also ranks third in rebounding (702), sixth in rebounding average (6.6), tied for 10th in games played (108) and is tied for second in games started (108).
Johnson played professionally for the Washington Lumberjacks of the Western Basketball League coached by current Sacramento Kings assistant coach John Wetzel. He also had a free agent tryout with the Phoenix Suns of the NBA.
Johnson earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education from Boise State in 1983.
Johnson and his wife, Jackie, have two children: a daughter, Tinishia, 20, and a son, Terry, 17. Tinishia is currently a junior at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona and a long jumper on the Sun Devils track and field team. Terry is a senior at Reno High School in Reno, Nevada and a three-year varsity letterman on the Huskies basketball team.
The Johnson File