Father-son duos in college basketball on the good and the bad of playing for dad

Avery Johnson led the men's basketball program at Alabama for the last four seasons, but before taking over as the Crimson Tide head coach he spent 16 years in the NBA as a player and five as a head coach. All that allowed his son, Avery Jr., to grow up around the game.

"Was your dad always a coach for you in a way with basketball? Or did he let you find your way when it came to the game?" CBS News' Dana Jacobson asked. 

"He kind of just let me rock. He didn't really say I had to play basketball. Like, I played some other sports. I played tennis, baseball … and then once it got to high school, that's when it-- he was like, 'We should pick one and focus on it,'" Avery Jr. said.

He spent his freshman year of college at Texas A&M, then left College Station for Tuscaloosa to play for his father.
 
"I just ended up, you know, wanting to come, you know, be with my family more. Just be around my dad. 'Cause the NBA lifestyle is crazy," he said. "You know, it's 82 games … It's always on the road. So it was just cool being close with him, you know, my last college years."

"When I got the job here at Alabama … I remember a couple of coaches reached out to me and said, 'Don't even think about it.' Your son needs to transfer to Alabama. You gotta coach your son," Avery's father said.  

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Avery Johnson Jr. CBS News

Bryce Drew, who coached at Vanderbilt for the last three years, knows a thing or two about the dynamic. He played for his father Homer at Indiana's Valparaiso University in the 1990s.
 
"He was my dad, so he didn't want to pressure me. He didn't want to, you know, over-recruit me. He wanted it to be my decision. My brother, who's the head coach at Baylor, he was an assistant at the time, he was pressuring," Drew said. "But my dad kind of took a middle road until the very end."

Drew said he committed to Valparaiso to help his family build a program there. In his senior year he became a part of college basketball history when in the first round of the 1998 NCAA tournament he hit an iconic buzzer beater to upset Ole Miss.
 
"You know, I think when my dad came over on the court and gave me a hug … that was a father hug. That was not a coach hug. And that's probably the lasting memory that I'll have from that game," Drew said.
 
His father agrees.  
 
"It was coach when he made the shot. But afterwards it was his dad and very happy, very proud of him," Homer said.

Homer admitted that the coach-player relationship was easy between him and Drew, in part because he was their best player. It takes a lot of pressure off. For Avery Sr. and Avery Jr., it's a little more complicated.
 
"The hardest part is – and I've never really shared this, it's pretty emotional – knowing that I played basically 38 minutes a game at Southern University, and my son is basically a eight- to 10-minute reserve player. He's not the superstar that I was when I was in college," Avery Sr. said. "But he's had a great run. … He's been a major asset to this program."
 
Like in last year's NCAA tournament win, the school's first in more than a decade.
 
"When I'm having a bad day I often turn on our game in the first round against Virginia Tech last year … Avery Jr. comes in and he scores eight points in 10 minutes. And, man, I'm thinking', that's my boy. … That memory I'll never forget it."
 
But the Johnson's time together at Alabama wasn't without a few pitfalls.

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Bryce Drew CBS News

"When we lose it's, like, threefold. It's one as a player, two, I'm his son and then, like, my whole family," Avery Jr. said.

He said it's hard to get away from a loss.

"You could have multiple good games. You could have one bad game, they say, oh, well, you shouldn't play 'cause you know, your dad's the coach. Or he's only playing you 'cause you know, he's your son," Avery Jr. said.
 
The harshest criticism may actually come from his coach.
 
"I remember early on my assistant coaching staff the first year we had to have like a little intervention," Avery Sr. said. "They sat me down and they say, 'Coach you're too hard on Avery. You've crossed a line because you want to try to send a statement to the rest of the players that he's not gonna get a free pass … So I had to pull back a little bit and just really just coach him just like he's one of the players."

"It's gonna be strange when I have to take off the coaching hat and just go back to being 100 percent dad. In some ways it's gonna be weird, but in other ways I'm lookin' forward to it because we've had a heck of a run together."