For four years at the College of Charleston and 13 seasons in the NBA, Anthony Johnson always felt like he was an extension of the coach every time he stepped on the basketball court.
On Monday morning, Johnson looked at home standing on the floor of TD Arena as he directed the more than 150 boys and girls at his annual AJ Basketball Camp.
With the future of College of Charleston basketball coach Doug Wojcik in doubt after allegations of verbal and physical abuse of players and staff, many Cougars basketball fans wonder if Johnson could become a more permanent fixture at TD Arena.
The former Stall High School star would not speculate on the job or his interest in becoming the Cougars head coach as long as Wojcik is still employed by the school. Johnson was interviewed for the position before Wojcik was hired in 2012.
"It would be inappropriate for me to talk about a job that wasn't available," said Johnson. "Coach Wojcik is the head coach at the College of Charleston, and until that changes, I just feel like the right thing to do is to let him do his job and not talk about any of those matters."
However, if Wojcik were to leave the program, Johnson said he would be interested in the position. Johnson had strong support from many in the Cougar Club, the school's athletic booster organization, when he pursued the job in 2012.
"I would definitely like to have the conversations with the necessary people to see their vision for the program and see if it could be a win-win for everyone," Johnson said. "I would definitely be interested in having those conversations if that time ever comes."
Johnson has two of the Cougars' returning starters - center Adjehi Baru and guard Anthony Stitt - assisting with his camp this week.
Johnson has spent the last two years working as a scout for the NBA's New Orleans Pelicans.
"Right now, I'm on that front-office GM track, but at some point in time I want to give coaching a try," Johnson said. "I feel coaching is maybe where I have the most to offer."
Johnson said he hopes to coach at the professional level one day, but he's not ruling out any possibilities.
"If the right job came along, I'd be stupid not to listen and see what was out there," Johnson said. "I'm more interested in coaching at the professional level, but there are some college jobs out there that would definitely spark my interest."
Despite having no coaching experience, Johnson feels he's ready to lead a program. Johnson points to the fact that there are several current NBA head coaches who had little or no coaching experience before they took over.
"There's no question in my mind that I'm ready to be a head coach," Johnson said. "When I played, I always felt like I was a head coach on the floor.
"The trend now in the coaching profession is to hire guys that don't have much or any coaching experience. There's a lot of guys who have had success without having coached before. Jason Kidd, Steve Kerr, I think Derek Fisher is going to have success. Mark Jackson is another guy. All of those guys had almost no coaching experience before they were head coaches."
There's one former player-turned-head coach with whom Johnson can identify. Kevin Ollie played in the NBA for more than a decade before leading the University of Connecticut to the national championship last season, despite having less than two years of coaching experience.
"I competed against Kevin Ollie almost his entire career in the NBA, so I know what he brings to the table," Johnson said. "I'd like to believe that I bring a similar skillset to the table. He just won a national championship. You looked at what those guys have done, and that makes me feel comfortable that I can step in and get the job done."
On Monday, Johnson was in his comfort zone, going from court to court and occasionally stopping to give a helpful hint to one of the campers.
"We've been doing this for 17 years and every year I look forward to coming back and working with the kids at this camp," said Johnson, "It's great to see the kids return year after year and watch them grow not only as basketball players, but as human beings."
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