Vassallo: Answer to Our Next Basketball Coach Is “Blowin in the Wind”

Johnny Neumann, Photo courtesy of Twitter

What would you say if there was an individual currently living in Oxford who had the following inclusions in his resumé?

A. Years of experience in coaching worldwide highlighted by many winning seasons and personal awards such as the Japanese Coach of the Year (2007), Cyprus Coach of the Year (twice) and all in all, covering a 30-year run.

B. SEC Legends Hall of Fame/Ole Miss Hall of Fame/NCAA First Team All American/ Leading Scorer NCAA/High School All American First Team.

C. Professional references that reflect some of the “biggest names” in college and pro basketball history.

The answer to that question is there is one, and that individual is Johnny Neumann.’s Steve Vassallo crossed paths recently with the nation’s leading scorer while he played here, and of all things, talked basketball.

Johnny looks and sounds great and has definitely not lost his competitive drive. For those readers who never had the opportunity to watch Johnny play at Ole Miss, you missed seeing the greatest shooter ever to wear an Ole Miss jersey. The 1971 season was an unforgettable one here in Oxford.

It’s difficult to be around Johnny, even for a few minutes, without reliving some of his incredible accomplishments. Such as coming off the bench in his first NBA game (Buffalo) and scoring 33 points or lighting up Vandy’s gym in one of the greatest single performances ever to air in the Music City.

Let me dream for just a moment. Ole Miss hires Johnny as its next head basketball coach. Recruiting goes wild landing several of the nation’s best. Ticket sales go through the roof. It’s Deja Vu all over again!

I refer to Johnny as the “Billy Martin” of basketball coaches. Johnny shared with me some of his philosophies.

“There is a fine line between being average and greatness,” he said. “It’s the little things that make a player great. Coaching comes natural for those who have the experience on and off the court. And recruiting is all about building personal relationships.”

I don’t know if there is a future or not for Johnny in the Ole Miss basketball program as either a head coach, recruiting coordinator or something in between. But here is what I do know: very few individuals (if any) could generate the level of excitement here in Oxford. And the winds are blowin as March approaches!

Steve VassalloSteve Vassallo is a contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at or call him at 985-852-7745.

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  1. Not going to happen. He would be very popular and the star of ole miss athletics. Our resident carpetbagger A D will not allow anyone any light to shine on anyone other than himself
    Bjork is a narcissistic egomaniac and the damage he has done to ole miss athletics can not be overstated.