Travis Bledsoe, a DeLaSalle graduate and most recently head coach at Centennial, has been named to replace his former coach, Dave Thorson, as head of the Islanders' highly successful boys' basketball program.

Bledsoe coached at Centennial, based in Circle Pines, for five seasons, including the last three as leader of the boys' basketball team. The 2005 Islander graduate was a three-year starter in high school and was named a Mr. Basketball finalist as a senior. He later played at the University of North Dakota, where he was a team captain and scored more than 1,000 points in his career.

"He's a strong teacher, an advocate for the individual skill development of his athletes as well as the personal and spiritual development of young men,'' Adam Pribyl, DeLaSalle's director of student activities, said in a statement released Wednesday. "He has himself been a stellar high school and collegiate athlete and in that context, fully understands the commitment necessary to achieve excellence."

Bledsoe earned a degree in communications from North Dakota and played professionally for one year in the Czech Republic before returning home to coach in Minnesota. He has coached on the AAU circuit as well and served as a director of Nike basketball camps for youth players.

He twice played in the state tournament under Thorson, who left DeLaSalle after 26 seasons to become an assistant coach at Drake on the staff of Minnesota native Niko Medved. The Islanders, playing in Class 3A, have won the last six state titles playing under Thorson.

Meanwhile, former Gopher basketball player Damian Johnson has been named the head coach at North High School in North St. Paul. He replaces Joe Janquart, who left after five seasons to be the head coach at Lakeville South.

Johnson, 30, played for the Gophers from 2006 to 2010. He played professionally in Japan and Australia and in the NBA Development League.