Iowa State basketball coach Greg McDermott set the record straight Wednesday on the reasons for the departure of Wesley Johnson from the program. McDermott was out of town when the announcement was made and said he wanted to address the questions first hands after days of speculation and comments from Johnson in the media. McDermott was joined by members of the team and I-S-U athletic staff as he said he was totally surprised when Johnson’s brother called May 15th to say Wesley was leaving.
McDermott says at no time did he or the coaching staff or any of Johnson’s teammates have any idea that he was considering a transfer. McDermott says he had several meetings with Johnson during the semester and on every occassion Johnson looked him in the eye and said he was fine. McDermott went through a timeline where Johnson took part in inteviewing a new assistant coach, signed up for a summer appartment, signed up for a summer job, and re-signed his scholarship letter leading right up until the day he left the program.
McDermott says he flew to Corsicana, Texas for a two hour meeting with Johnson to talk about his leaving. He says Johnson would not allow him to talk to his parents and told the coach he was leaving because of their relationship. McDermott says he disputes the idea that the two developed a poor relationship. McDermott says when they met, Johnson had a real hard time giving reasons that their player/coach relationship was not what it should be. McDermott says Johnson struggled with being injured for the first time in his career and says the injury did not have anything to do with him leaving.
McDermott says he thinks his coaching was the reason that Johnson decided to leave. "You know my job, and I’m not going to appologize for what I do and how I do it — is to help young people grow on and off the court. And sometimes that involves doing things and saying things that may not be popular with and 18 or 19-year-old. I mean it’s no different from my role as a parent. Sometimes you have to put your foot down and they don’t understand it, and they don’t get it, and you hope they don’t take it personal," McDermott say
McDermott says Johnson didn’t handle the coaching well. He says in his opinion, Johnson took some of his coaching personal and could not get passed it. McDermott says he attempted to explain things to Johnson and work through things to get him to stay. McDermott says he was willing to work to develop the relationship, but told Johnson he wasn’t here to be his best friend, he was here to coach him. He says his job was to prepare Johnson to play his best, possibly at the next level, and if he didn’t do that, Johnson might be happy now, but not happy later. McDermott says it’s diappointing to Johnson’s teammates and Cyclone fans.
McDermott says the program is way bigger than one player and they are going to move forward and continue making strides in rebuilding. McDermott says Johnson has not yet been let out of his scholarship and he is discussing the issue with the athletic director. McDermott says they need to discuss the way Johnson left, giving them no time to think about replacing him.