It was quite the day for Ricardo Johnson on Thursday.
He got to see his son graduate pre-school and was named the next boys basketball coach of Holy Cross High School. The Former Holmes standout and 2009 state champion is back in the 35th District.
Johnson replaces Casey Sorrell, who resigned after two seasons to focus on some family health issues with his newborn daughter.
“In grade school I lived in Latonia. I was very interested in the opportunity that Holy Cross presented and they were interested in my vision,” Johnson said. “Casey and his staff did a great job taking them to the next level and building relationships within the community.”
This will be Johnson’s first varsity head coaching job, having six years of coaching experience at the college level as a graduate assistant at Xavier under Chris Mack, the director of basketball operations at the University of Tennessee-Martin and as a volunteer assistant at Panola Junior College in Carthage, Texas.
He becomes the 17th coach in Holy Cross history. He takes on a team that graduates a talented six-senior class, including one of the most decorated in 9th Region history in Jacob Meyer, the region’s all-time leading scorer. The Indians went 21-8 this past season which included a run to the All “A” state championship, finishing runner-up.
“We are excited for the next era of Holy Cross Basketball,” Holy Cross Athletic Director Anne Julian said. “Coach Johnson has been mentored by some of the best in the
country. He will continue our tradition of toughness and passion, while guiding our
young men in discipline, work ethic, civility, academic rigor and Christian values.”
Johnson is aware of the challenges ahead with a roster that doesn’t have much varsity experience, but much like himself, gives a new crop of kids a chance to prove themselves.
“We’ll just take things one day at a time. We’ll attack every day with a great attitude, get out there and play and this is a great opportunity for these new guys to develop,” Johnson said. “These guys now get a chance to stand out. It’s my job to put these guys in position to be successful and the cohesiveness of the team and I’m excited for this bunch.
One thing Johnson wants to make sure, he’s a competitor and that’s the identity his team will take on.
“You’ll see 32 minutes of exciting basketball in all facets of the game. Offense is very personnel driven, defensively we’re going to get after people and be competitive every possession,” Johnson said.
Pretty much everywhere Johnson has been, his teams have been successful. In Holmes’ 2009 title run, Johnson was named Sweet 16 MVP and then went on to play at Ohio University where he was a part of the winningest class in Bobcat history. Johnson helped the Bobcats reach postseason play in each of his four seasons in Athens. In 2012, they won the MAC regular season championship and reached the Sweet 16. The Musketeers made the Elite 8 in 2016-17 and were a No. 1 seed in the 2018 NCAA Tournament in Johnson’s tenure at Xavier.
“It seems like Ricardo Johnson was destined to be a basketball coach. As a player, he was a leader and a ‘coach on the floor’ during his time at Holmes,” David Henley, Johnson’s former head coach at Holmes said. “Head coach is a natural fit for Ricardo. He will work hard, hold his players accountable, and the young men who play for him will get better! Most importantly, Holy Cross hired an incredible human being. In my 35 years coaching basketball, Ricardo is one of the best role models I’ve had the pleasure of coaching. I’m super excited for him, he will do a fantastic job!”
Johnson worked in logistics at Whitehorse Freight and coached at the AAU level recently. No matter where life has taken him, basketball has been a key part of it, whether playing, coaching or running around to catch his five nephews play the game.
Now he gets to lead his own program.
“My path has prepared me for this opportunity,” Johnson said. “Thanks to my coaches and my support staff I’ve been fortunate to win at every level I’ve been in. When I broke my leg my senior season at Ohio, I knew I wanted to be around basketball. I’m paying it forward now, all the coaches that invested in me growing up and now I want to do that with my players.”
Johnson plans to hit the ground running with the team as June is a busy month for high school programs leading into the dead period.
Johnson helped put a banner up in David Evans Gymnasium and a sign off 5th Street in Covington, now he wants to do the same at Holy Cross.
“Those banners will be in that gym at Holmes forever, I want an opportunity to do that elsewhere. I’m invested to try and get another sign in Latonia for Holy Cross basketball,” Johnson said.