MarketplaceContestsCollege Hoops


This UWGB recruit chose the Phoenix over major schools; how he beat the odds to play D1 hoops

Following a shooting in 2021, doctors told Jeremiah Johnson he'd be in a wheelchair for three years. He was dunking a basketball within three months. The four-star recruit explains why he chose UWGB.
Posted at 6:54 PM, Jun 21, 2024

GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — The questions surrounding how Doug Gottlieb would fare as UW-Green Bay’s men’s basketball coach - at least on the recruiting side - have seemingly been answered. Several highly-rated players have already committed to play for the Phoenix in the 2024-25 season.

That list includes four-star guard Jeremiah Johnson, one of the highest-rated prospects in program history, who announced his commitment to the Phoenix last week.

Johnson was previously committed to Oklahoma State, where Gottlieb played college basketball in the late 1990s and served as a consultant last season.

He said his father, former Texas State player Jeremy Johnson, spoke highly of Gottlieb and urged his son to take a chance on the first-year head coach.

“I’m going to get what I want out of Green Bay because I’m going to have the proper people helping me,” Johnson told NBC 26 shortly after committing to Green Bay.

The Phoenix had some stiff competition. Johnson chose UWGB over power five schools like Texas A&M and Florida, where he took a visit just last weekend.

“I’ve always been recruited by power five schools and at one point I even had Kentucky recruiting me,” Johnson said.

"As a kid, you want to play for schools like that but as you get older you understand the right fit and the coaching staff and I wanted to go somewhere where it feels like family and where you can actually see yourself growing as a man,” he added. “That's the most important thing.”

He said the goal is not to use the Phoenix as a launchpad to transfer to a bigger school, like All-Horizon League guard Noah Reynolds who transferred to TCU following his lone season with the Phoenix last year.

Still, he may not be here long: Johnson hopes to go straight from Green Bay to the NBA.

“I’m coming in to work and to be one and done,” he said. "I’m not coming into work, get numbers and go to another school. I want to go to the NBA after my first year at Wisconsin-Green Bay.”

That would be remarkable, especially considering just three years ago a shooting put his basketball career in jeopardy.

“People started fighting and then one thing led to another and it was just a shooting broke out,” Johnson explained.

Playing a pick-up game as a high school sophomore, Johnson was shot twice in the hip and temporarily paralyzed from the waist down. He described the incident as a “wrong place, wrong time" type of situation.

He said doctors told him it would take three to four years to regain his ability to walk.

“When they said that it kind of broke me down,” Johnson said. “Because I’m like, ‘Dang. Three to four years I’m going to be graduated by then. I’m going to be grown, grown.’”

He feared for his career. But somehow, Johnson said he was back to dunking a basketball within three months. It’s something that shocked even his doctors.

“Beating the odds and doctors can’t even tell me why or how it happened,” Johnson said. “It just shows that God got a plan for you then ain’t nothing stopping as long as you give all what you got and just try and just be a good person and just do what you can do.”

The shooting happened in February of 2021. Johnson said he was back to full competition by the following fall.


Johnson, an Oklahoma native, spent last season playing for Overtime Elite, a developmental league for players aged 16-20 years old. The league allowed players to get paid while preparing for college basketball and maintaining their NCAA eligibility. He averaged 18.7 points per game in his lone season.

Johnson said while Green Bay couldn’t offer as much in terms of a name, image and likeness deal as his other suitors, the Phoenix put together a “competitive offer.” He added that at this stage of his life, the school fit is more important than the money. “I’m not coming to college to try to get rich,” he told NBC 26.

The 6’4” guard is one of several notable signings since Gottlieb took over the program in May. Isaiah Miranda, a 7’1” former four-star recruit who also has ties to Oklahoma State, gave a commitment to Green Bay last month. Last week the Phoenix signed 6’11” big man Roee Oselka, who played professionally in Israel last season.

Green Bay was in dire need of a playmaking guard after losing both Noah Reynolds, the Horizon League newcomer of the year, and D.J. Douglas, the Horizon League freshman of the year, in the transfer portal. ESPN has Johnson ranked as the No. 44 ranked guard in the high school class of 2024.