New Gophers coach Richard Pitino added a new member to his quickly growing staff at Minnesota, our Sid Hartman reported late on Friday night.

Ben Johnson, a Minnesota native, will be the second assistant on Pitino's coaching roster.

Johnson, who according to a source has piqued the interest of athletic director Norwood Teague for some time, spent last season on Nebraska coach Tim Miles' staff. Previously, Johnson spent four seasons at Northern Iowa, the last of those as the recruiting coordinator. He also served as an assistant at Texas-Pan American for two seasons.

With Pitino and current assistant Kimani Young, and director of basketball operations Mike Balado all having recruiting ties and experience mostly on the east coast, Johnson fills a greatly needed hole on the staff. The 32-year-old played at DeLaSalle High School -- where "Big Three" Reid Travis currently plays -- before continuing his hoops career at first Northwestern, then Minnesota. After working and recruiting in the region for the past five years, his knowledge and connections locally should be an asset to the Gophers

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