Hawai'i adds former player, Utah Tech assistant Gibson Johnson to staff.

via Hawai’i Athletics

Former ‘Bow, Utah Tech assistant coach Gibson Johnson re-joins Hawai’i coaching staff 

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED JUNE 5, 2024

HONOLULU – Guess who’s back, back again? 

Former Rainbow Warriors standout Gibson Johnson (‘18) will be joining the Hawai’i men’s basketball coaching staff, UH announced Wednesday morning. It will mark the 2nd stint as a coach for the former standout forward and all-Big West honorable mention after serving on Eran Ganot’s staff as a graduate manager (2019-21) and director of player development (2021-22).  

“First of all, I love the [Hawai’i men’s basketball program],” Johnson said regarding his encore stint on the Rainbow Warriors’ staff. “My love started playing here. I met a lot of special people at this program and university and the state in general is just surrounded by the type of people that I want to surround myself with … It’s a special place.” 

Johnson, who won a junior college national championship at Salt Lake Community College prior to his playing days for the ‘Bows, was a two-year captain and starter for the Rainbow Warriors. The 6-foot-8 forward averaged double-digit points in each season with Hawai’i, starting 59 out of 60 possible games while being named an all-Big West honorable mention during his junior season. 

“Being able to explain what it is on a day-to-day basis [at Hawai’i], what it’s like playing for coach – the amazing things about it and the struggles you go through [as a collegiate student-athlete] – I feel like I’m able to give that insight,” Johnson responded when asked about some of the traits he’ll bring back to the staff. “I have some good qualities as a coach as far as being able to recruit, how connected I am in the game [too].” 

Following his graduation, Johnson took a year as an assistant coach at SLCC before jumping on staff at his alma mater. After his three seasons on the pine with Ganot and company, Johnson accepted a role at Utah Tech as an assistant coach under legendary Division II coach Jon Judkins – who led then-Dixie State to 12 straight winning seasons, six PacWest conference crowns and nine Division II NCAA Tournament appearances before the program transitioned into the Division I institution ranks. 

“It was a learning experience overall. The programs are run differently so [I was afforded] different responsibilities with an elevation going from [director of player development at Hawai’i] to assistant coach,” Johnson said, reflecting on his time with Utah Tech. “I was given full opportunity over at Utah Tech and that really allowed me to grow. Coach [Jon Judkins] is a great guy, over 600 wins in college sports [is hard to do]. 

While with the Trailblazers, Johnson continued refining the multiple aspects of his coaching prowess as a developer of players, strategist, and recruiter. Among his quality traits as a coach, multiple staffs have lauded his ability to recruit and connect with players from across the country. His time at Utah Tech lined up perfectly with that for Idaho transfer sophomore Tanner Christensen, joining the Trailblazers for the 2022-23 season. Christensen committed to transfer to Hawai’i for his final year of eligibility earlier this offseason on April 1 and officially signed on April 17. 

“I’m really excited about where the program is heading,” Johnson said. “We suffocate our program with great people and we’re going to keep pushing in that [positive] direction. I’ve always been about winning championships, it’s the reason I came out here and that’s what we want to do.”