CONCORDIA, Kansas — On Tuesday, the Cloud County Community College Board of Trustees approved the hiring of Kansas native and former T-Bird, Todd Johnston, as the new Assistant Men's Basketball Coach.
"I'm excited to be here. This is a step that I need in my coaching career, but being at Cloud, specifically, I fell in love with this place when I was a player," said Johnston, 26, who spent two years at Cloud from 2009-11. "It's great being able to come back, see some of the familiar faces that are still here from when I played. The community was very supportive of me and the familiarity made it a pretty easy decision."
Johnston is from Kincaid, Kansas and a graduate from Colony-Crest High School. After his two years at Cloud County, he moved on to finish his playing career at Baker University and received two bachelor's degrees in Secondary Education and History.
He averaged 10 points per game his senior season at Baker and, during the 2011-12 season, helped the Wildcats earn a berth into the NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Tournament for the first time since 1996.
After his playing days, Johnston spent one season as an assistant at Missouri Southern State University in 2014-15, where the Lions finished 20-11 overall, then served as a Graduate Assistant Coach at Benedictine College in Atchinson, Kansas the past two seasons. He will receive his master's degree this June in School Leadership.
"I saw Todd's work ethic back then during his two years at Cloud. His character is impeccable and his character is as good as you're going to find," said Cloud County head men's basketball coach, Chad Eshbaugh. "Literally everyone who knows Todd thinks the world of him. Every coach he has ever been associated with told me pointblank 'If I had a spot on my staff open, I'd hire him,' so for me it was a no-brainer. He's a great hire and we're fortunate to have him."
While at Benedictine, Johnston said he was placed in charge of the guards' individual development and oversaw the scouting department. His understanding of the game, eye for talent and ability to develop players were all positive and necessary traits.
"One of the things that really drew me to Todd was his work ethic," Eshbaugh said. "We're at a level (NJCAA) where you have to be versatile and he brings a versatile skill set to accompany his work ethic."
Johnston will be Eshbaugh's first former player to join him along the bench. It's an opportunity Eshbaugh said he had looked forward to and one Johnston deserved.
"For me, that's been something I've wanted to do," said Eshbaugh, referring to hiring a former player as an assistant. "I'm getting to the age now where my former players can be eligible to be college coaches. Todd is the first one and I'm very excited to work with him."