Alabama set to introduce Avery Johnson as basketball coach

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) New Alabama coach Avery Johnson wants to make the Crimson Tide ''the leader of the college basketball world.''

Johnson will be introduced at a news conference on Wednesday, a day after arriving in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He said that coaching in the college ranks was ''a lifelong dream'' and arrived with lofty ambitions for the program.

''Our goal is to make Alabama the leader of the college basketball world,'' Johnson said in a statement released by the university. ''Our fans can expect a team that is going to be very exciting to watch, on both the offensive and defensive ends. A team that's well-prepared and plays with passion, with high energy. The type of team that our fans can support with a lot of enthusiasm. We're going to recruit at the highest level, both in-state and out of state. Recruiting in the state of Alabama is a high priority.''

Alabama is paying him almost $1 million more than his predecessor, Anthony Grant.

A person with knowledge of the negotiations said Johnson is receiving a six-year contract worth some $2.8 million annually plus incentives. The person spoke to The Associated Press Tuesday on condition of anonymity because Alabama hasn't released the contract details.

Grant was making $1.9 million a year before he was fired in December.

Johnson has had stints as an NBA head coach with the Dallas Mavericks and New Jersey Brooklyn Nets. He had a 16-year playing career in the NBA, where he was nicknamed ''The Little General.''

He's 254-186 as a head coach, all in the NBA, and had been working as an ESPN analyst.

Bruce Pearl, coach of rival Auburn, said he's ''heard great things about him.''

Johnson also made a pitch to fans after crowds had dwindled under Grant.

''Get ready for the ride of your life at Coleman Coliseum,'' he said.

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