Sun Prairie freshman Jalen Johnson had become use to hearing the question.
Whether it was on social media, in the high school hallways or on the court, the 6-5 Johnson would routinely get asked – or teased – about when he was finally going to get an offer from the University of Wisconsin.
He didn’t let it get to him, but inside Johnson was asking the same question.
“I was hoping for one,” Johnson told BadgerNation. “Me and the coaching staff have very strong relationships, so I felt one was going to come sooner or later.”
Johnson no longer has to think about that question, as the 2020 prospect was given a verbal scholarship by Badgers head coach Greg Gard during an unofficial visit to campus Friday.
It’s the first scholarship offer for Johnson and the first known scholarship Gard has given to any 2020 prospect.
“Any scholarship is a blessing, because not many kids are able to play division-1 basketball and get their school paid for,” Johnson said. “That’s a big bonus right there.”
Scheduling Friday’s visit last week, the main purpose of Johnson’s visit was to get a more in-depth tour of the campus and continuing building a relationship with the assistant coaches. Johnson’s main recruiting coach at Wisconsin was Lamont Paris, who took the head coaching job at Chattanooga in early April.
Johnson said his relationship with the former UW associate head coach was the strongest of any coach he was speaking with, but second year Badgers assistant Joe Krabbenhoft has started to step in to fill that void.
“Me and Coach Paris are really close,” Johnson said. “It sucked seeing him leave, but I’m happy for him that he got a head coaching job somewhere. Coach Krabbenhoft just doesn’t want me to rush anything. He wants me to focus on academics, keep focusing on my game and get better on and off the court.”
Although injured for the first part of the season with a knee injury, Johnson was a big factor in helping the Cardinals go 20-4 overall and reach the division 1 regional final, averaging 14.9 points in 14 games.
“As a leader, I know people follow me in my footsteps,” Johnson said. “I’m more worried about getting my teammates involved, but (I’m working on) my behavior on and off the court, my decision making has to be pinpoint in tougher games and scoring.”
For those thinking a quick commitment is in the cards, Johnson said he doesn’t plan on making a decision until sometime in his senior year. He knows the questions about Wisconsin are surely going to intensify until then.
“Growing up in the Madison area, there are a bunch of Badger fans around,” Johnson said. “They always want me to go to the Badgers. I don’t want them to affect my recruiting with other schools. I want to focus on my school at Sun Prairie, my AAU team and winning state. When the time comes later on, I’ll make a decision. “