Marcus Fuller is reporting that the Gophers have hired a new graduate assistant this season and it is a very familar face. Jarvis Johnson was a huge get when Pitino first got here. He was from the Twin Cities and he was really good, another product of DeLaSalle High School. Unfortunately, due to a heart condition, he was never deemed eligible to suit up in a Gophers uniform.

But now, he will throw on a coach’s suit and start a new career.

It still breaks my heart to think about what Johnson could have been as a Gopher basketballer but this is pretty awesome, and about the best way things could have worked out, given the circumstances. It’s also a testament to commitment and perseverence paying off. As mentioned in Fuller’s story, other schools would have cleared him to play and he could have played division one basketball somewhere. But, he stayed here and the Gophers kept him on scholarship while he got his degree.

Now, they hire him to his first coaching job. Pitino is lucky too. How often do you get to hire a graduate assistant, who is this comfortable with your team, and already has his type of life experience. Not everyone has to go through the disappointment of having a D1 basketball scholarship offer pulled from underneath them because of a heart condition that they did nothing to cause.

All parties deserve praise in this situation.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan