In another coaching move this Monday, the Fairfield Stags have found a new head man on to lead their program to another level. In what is becoming a modern trend for coaches to work up the ladder to get to a higher level job with better pay and recruiting opportunities, current Princeton Tiger head coach Sydney Johnson has decided to move on from his alma matter after four years to take over the Stags head coaching vacancy opened up when Ed Cooley took his show on the road to Providence College.
According to the Connecticut Post, Johnson was a finalist alongside current associate head coach Bob Simon and three others interested in the job.
Johnson finds himself in a great situation, as he inherits a solid team that went 25-8 and was the number one seed heading into the MAAC conference tournament before being upset by St. Peters. The Stags under Cooley the last two seasons have had back-to-back 20 win campaigns. As of now, it seems that the solid talent of sophomore point guard Derek Needham, junior center Ryan Olander and freshman forward Maurice Barrow are expected to be back on campus in Fairfield Connecticut at the start of training camp. Boston College transfer Rakim Sanders and Houston point guard Desmond Wade should also be back with the team.
Needham averaged 14 points, 4.5 assists and 3 rebounds per game in his sophomore campaign. The ESPN scouting department gave him a scouting grade of 83, heading out of high school, meaning they believed he would be a solid starter and contributor for a mid major program. Here is a simple scouting report from the World Wide Leader.
Needham is a scoring point guard that plays with great energy and effort. He is athletic and very quick off the dribble especially when he is making scoring plays in transition as well as in the half court. He is an excellent ball handler and good passer with three point shooting range. He is a terrific defender on the ball. He applies excellent ball pressure and is alert in the passing lanes as well. Needham will provide the Stags with a scorer that can also run the team and make a scoring play at end of clock situations.
Johnson came to his alma mater after three years alongside John Thompson III at Georgetown, where the Hoyas went to the Final Four in his last season on alongside his first mentor, a fellow grad of Princeton. It was then that Johnson made the jump to coach to school he played ball for, going 66-53 in his time in Princeton New Jersey. The 36 year old was part of the biggest turn around in program history.
Johnson has yet to release a statement and terms of the contract have not been disclosed at this time. This is a solid hire for Fairfield that could have the Stags heading in the right direction for years to come.