Fox could be losing a top assistant (updated with Fox comments)

semerson@macon.comApril 22, 2013 

UGA assistant men's basketball coach Kwanza Johnson.

UGA SPORTS COMMUNICATIONS

TIFTON - Georgia head coach Mark Fox confirmed that one of his top assistants, Kwanza Johnson, is in talks with TCU, and Fox has begun preparing for Johnson's departure.

Fox said reports that Johnson is being vetted by TCU - coached by Fox's good friend Trent Johnson - are "a fair assessment." Although nothing is done, Fox indicated it was close.

"Yeah I'm preparing myself for that. We're preparing for that," Fox said. "Trent and I have such a great relationship, that it'll be handled in a first-class way. But nothing's happened yet. But we're preparing in case it does."

Could Fox promote from within to replace Johnson?

"I could. I could go outside," Fox said. "Nowhere near ready to deal with that, even though we're trying to prepare, because we've been gone so much. It's not something we've dug our heels in on yet."

Original story, printed on Monday:

ATHENS - For the first time since Mark Fox came to Georgia, it appears he will be losing an assistant coach.

Kwanza Johnson is set to take an assistant coaching job at TCU, according to a report in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The newspaper, citing two sources inside the athletics department, said Johnson is being vetted by TCU before an announcement is made.

A source at Georgia confirmed the report on Monday morning.

Johnson, 41, would be returning closer to home, having grown up in Oklahoma State, graduating from Tulsa University and spent much of his coaching career out west. Johnson has been with Fox for seven years, including Fox's last three seasons at Nevada.

There's another interesting tie in the pending move: TCU head coach Trent Johnson is very close friends with Fox. Trent Johnson and Fox coached together for years, and Fox succeeded him as Nevada's head coach in 2006. Trent Johnson also introduced Fox to his wife, Cindy, while the two were coaching at Washington.

If Kwanza Johnson does leave, he would be the first assistant coach to leave since Fox was hired at Georgia in 2009. Johnson, Philip Pearson and Stacey Palmore were all hired at that time, along with Kent Davison, the director of basketball operations.

A source said Korey McCray, the former UCLA assistant who was not retained as a full-time coach by Steve Alford, would be interested in joining Georgia's staff. McCray, who played at Mercer, has extensive ties to the state of Georgia.

Jonas Hayes, the former Georgia player who is currently the team's operations coordinator, might also be a candidate. Hayes, hired by Fox in May of 2012, has taken an active role on the team, though he and Davison are not allowed to recruit in their current roles.

Follow Seth Emerson at @sethemerson.

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