SARASOTA – As soon as he donned the Booker High School basketball uniform, Andre Johnson had a vision.
“I’ve wanted to do this since I was 15 or 16. I always dreamed of coaching at Booker,” Johnson said.
That dream came true on Wednesday when Johnson was named the Tornadoes’ head basketball coach.
But before he realized his dream, Johnson had other achievements.
The athletic 6-foot-4 goaltender was the Florida Athletic Coaches Association District Class 4A Player of the Year after averaging 19.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.4 steals in as a senior with the Tornadoes in 2014.
This earned Johnson a full drive to Collin County Junior College in Dallas before moving on to Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Mississippi, then Division II Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee.
At Booker, Johnson replaces Markus Black, another former star who helped the Tornadoes win a state title in 2006.
Like Black, Johnson logged in to his current position.
Black has kept in touch with contacts, such as those at the University of Arkansas, where he landed an assistant coach position in the men’s basketball program.
Johnson used his contacts to secure a position on the Keizer University men’s basketball team under head coach Marcus Bryant in Fort Lauderdale.
“I learned from Marcus Bryant,” said Johnson, who was involved in player development, recruiting and scouting at Kaiser. “He gave me everything he knew. I respect him. I learned a lot from him. He really is a great man. “
That, in turn, helped Johnson, 24, gain valuable coaching experience.
“Everything that I’ve learned in the last year, I’m going to try to fit it in and try to build a real program here,” Johnson said.
Johnson will tailor his Booker squads based on the skill level of his players, but he plans to instill a blue collar and work mentality.
“I grew up at the Robert L. Taylor Recreation Center. All these guys know me. They know how I worked to get to where I was, ”Johnson said. “They understand it. They saw me work in the first half. It was right in front of them. That’s why it’s a blessing. They saw me evolve as a player. And now I’m doing it as a coach.
“Making sure that we are building a culture, establishing a fellowship, making sure that everyone is on the same page and that we all have the same goals in mind. Just make sure we’re a tribe.
Johnson plans to start establishing this over the summer by playing games and attending camps.
He believes his age and youth will be an advantage, not a disadvantage.
“I’m a hungry young man,” Johnson said. “The community knows how hard I have worked. They won’t take my age as a factor. They will examine my character and see how hard I worked to get into the position I am today. “
Dennis Maffezzoli is associate sports editor for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and chief reporter for Sarasota Herald-Tribune and HTpreps covering Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties. Support local journalism by subscribing.