Keynote Speaker - 2017
Avery Johnson was introduced as Alabama's 20th head men's basketball coach on April 6, 2015. Johnson, who led the San Antonio Spurs to the 1999 NBA title and was named the 2006 NBA Coach of the Year, came to the Capstone after a successful coaching career in the NBA.
Johnson's first year at Alabama turned many heads in the college basketball world as it didn't take long for fans and student-athletes alike to heed his motto "Buckle Up" in reference to the excitement he expects his tenure will offer.
During the 2015-16 season, his inaugural as a collegiate head coach, Johnson gave a glimpse of just that. The Crimson Tide finished with an 18-15 record and earned an at-large selection to the 2016 National Invitation Tournament – Alabama's fifth postseason trip in the last seven years.
Johnson owned an NBA career coaching record of 254-186 (.577) after spending four seasons with the Dallas Mavericks (2004-08) and two-plus seasons with the Brooklyn Nets (2010-13).
During his time in Dallas, Johnson led the Mavericks to the postseason in each of his three-plus seasons as head coach. He led the Mavericks to a record of 194-70 (.735) and set the record for reaching the 50-win plateau (62 games) and the 150-win plateau (191 games) the fastest.
In 16 NBA seasons, he averaged 8.4 points, 5.5 assists, 1.7 rebounds and 25.3 minutes played in 1,054 career games with seven different teams. Known as "The Little General" for his on-court leadership and diminutive stature, Johnson helped guide the San Antonio Spurs to an NBA Championship in 1999.
The New Orleans native played his final two collegiate seasons at Southern University, leading the NCAA in assists in each of his two years at Southern, and was named the Southwestern Athletic Conference Player of the Year and the MVP of the conference tournament as both a junior and senior.
Number nine in a family of 10 kids raised in the New Orleans' Lafitte Housing project, Johnson, like many in America's inner cities, spent his youth battling the statistics. As a result of his success, Johnson is known for his impactful and motivational speeches, bringing as much passion into his speaking engagements as he does into the game of basketball. Johnson's passion extends to the ministry and mentoring of today's youth – his motivational speeches are in high demand at churches and schools across the nation.
Through his involvement with the nonprofit organization "Just Say Yes", Coach Johnson's mission is to make a positive impact on Middle and High School youth. In October 2005, he was co-host of the Katrina Rescue Ride to benefit the Salvation Army and the Red Cross' relief efforts of the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
In 2008, Johnson wrote his second book, Aspire Higher: Winning On and Off the Court with Determination, Discipline and Decisions (Collins), an essential game plan for anyone looking to reach their goals.
Johnson received a degree in psychology in 1988 from Southern University. He married his wife Cassandra in July of 1991 in New Orleans. They have two children, Christianne and Avery Jr., who will be a redshirt sophomore on the Crimson Tide basketball team in 2016.