Hawaii men’s basketball: Gibson Johnson returns as graduate manager

Former Hawaii forward Gibson Johnson went between UC Irvine's Max Hazzard and Tommy Rutherford in UH's 62-61 win at the Bren Events Center in 2018. / File photo by Darryl Miho, Special to the Star-Advertiser

Former Hawaii forward Gibson Johnson is still looking to go pro in basketball — just not with a jersey on his back.

He’ll be wearing aloha shirts on the sidelines instead. Johnson was made official as a graduate manager with the Rainbow Warriors for the 2019-20 season this week, with an eye toward an eventual career as a coach or perhaps more.

“I’m excited to be back with the team. I have an awesome staff to learn from and a great group of guys to help get better,” Johnson messaged Hawaii Warrior World. “Coaching is something I’ve always loved. If the right opportunities presented themselves through my hard work and due diligence I’d love to make a career of it. I’d like to be an athletic director at a college one day and many of them get their start in coaching.”

Dominic Drury and Garrett Jackson were UH’s graduate managers last season. Drury was recently promoted to assistant director of basketball operations. Jackson left after the season for an internship position with the San Antonio Spurs.

The last former UH player in a graduate manager/assistant position here was another Johnson — Zane Johnson for the first two years of Eran Ganot’s head coaching tenure.

Gibson Johnson, who finished playing in spring 2018, will reunite with five of his old teammates — Drew Buggs, Zigmars Raimo, Samuta Avea, Mate Colina and Justin Hemsley. He got married in the intervening year.

Johnson, who was an All-Big West honorable mention as a junior, was memorably the second-oldest player in the country his senior year and capped his career with his best game, 23 points in a loss to UC Irvine in the Big West tournament.

He was never afraid to speak his mind as a player. That trait will likely serve him well as an extra voice on Ganot’s staff and beyond.

Gibson Johnson hugged head coach Eran Ganot on senior night against UC Irvine in 2018. / Star-Advertiser file photo by Jamm Aquino
Gibson Johnson will be reunited with former teammates Zigmars Raimo and Drew Buggs, seen here against Long Beach State in 2018. / Star-Advertiser file photo by Cindy Ellen Russell


  1. Warrior Lifer June 25, 2019 11:08 pm

    Good hire, I always liked Gib Johnson, and feel like his leadership and enthusiasm will turn him into a good coach one day. I’d like to think he could have a shot at becoming an assistant coach or possibly head coach at Hawaii in the future.

  2. iGrokSpock June 26, 2019 8:15 am

    Way to continue the dream Gib!!

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