INDIANAPOLIS – Anderson’s Terry Johnson is back home again in Indiana after accepting an assistant coach’s position on Matt Painter’s staff at Purdue.
Johnson was a three-sport athlete at Anderson High School, where he played football, baseball, and basketball. He remembers playing games at the Wigwam vividly.
“It’s just so surreal. You get to play in front of eight-thousand people as a fifteen, sixteen-year-old night in and night out every Friday and Saturday,” Johnson said.
Thirty years later, Johnson is coaching Big Ten Basketball.
He joined Painter at Purdue April 22 after following Chris Holtmann from Butler to Ohio State in 2017.
Johnson told CBS4’s JoJo Gentry Tuesday Purdue provided him an opportunity to expand his coaching skills and experiences. He hopes his new role at Purdue guides him to be a head coach one day.
“With Coach Holtmann, I was a defensive coordinator. Now, Coach Painter wants me to jump to the other side. That was really the most exciting part for me,” Johnson said. “I’m going to be able to be a well-rounded coach.”
Johnson, who spent his last seven seasons serving Holtmann between their stints at Butler and Ohio State, admits feeling uncomfortable thinking about facing Holtmann in Big Ten play.
“I hate that’s in the league. I do hate that fact. But, there’s nothing I can do about that.”
There was also an existing personal connection between Johnson and Painter.
“Painter’s pretty much kind of like family,” he said. “When he was an assistant in division three at Washington Jefferson, he coached my twin cousins. My cousins are still close with him.”
Playing college baseball and basketball, becoming a basketball coach was not originally Johnson’s plan. He wanted to play professional baseball instead.
But while finishing his degree at Indiana University Purdue University – Fort Wayne (IPFW), he was keeping scores for Division II games. He recalls one day consoling a player on a losing team, which had a positive impact on that player moving forward.
“About a week later my JUCO coach said, ‘Hey man, you’re going to be a basketball coach,'” he said. “I was like, ‘No, I’m not. I’m going to be a professional baseball player.’ And it ended right there.”
Then Johnson joined Brad Steven’s staff at Butler in 2007. That’s when everything changed.
“My eyes were wide open. I was like, ‘This is me. This is where I was supposed to be the entire time.'”
Johnson also served as an assistant at IPFW, when Dane Fife was the Mastodons’ head coach. Fife, now an assistant at Indiana under Mike Woodson, is another former staffer Johnson is set to face.
Indiana has not beaten Purdue since February 20, 2016.
“I’m letting him know over there like, at some point you guys gotta beat Purdue,” Johnson laughed. “But, it’s not going to happen anytime soon. Not right now, anyway.”