As Final Four fever rises across the nation, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh alumnus Jordan Johnson ’09, of Kimberly, wants to help young basketball players shoot like the pros with his new training aid.
Johnson’s patent-pending ProShot band helps players keep their fingers in the correct position for dribbling, passing and shooting.
Last week, Johnson’s invention got a boost when he won $10,000 for first place in UW Oshkosh’s inaugural Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation “Shark Tank”-style event held in Naples, Fla.
“I am so thankful for this opportunity,” said Johnson, who majored in accounting and played on the UW Oshkosh basketball team from 2004 to 2008. “Using the $10,000 to raise awareness of ProShot through marketing and advertising is going to make a significant impact on my new business.”
Johnson’s idea sprang from his lifelong love of basketball.
“I have been playing basketball ever since I can remember,” he said. “For me, despite the weather, the month of March has always been the best month of the year.”
Johnson plans to advertise and spread awareness of ProShot by marketing it at large-scale basketball training facilities as well as basketball tournaments and camps. The key, he said, will be to connect with coaches to get the word out about his innovative product.
UWO’s entrepreneurial competition began with a field of 27 contestants who all were taking classes at the University to qualify. The top 10 presented their novel ideas to a panel of external judges in February, with the top three moving on to the finals in Florida.
Alumnus Jordan Rhodes ’13, of Neenah, won $5,000 for second place for his idea related to developing healthier youth, while UWO senior Luke Van Drunen won $2,500 for his neighborhood website project. The funds will be used strictly for business development.
The judges for the Florida finals included Paul Makurat, plant manager with Alta Resources in Fort Meyers; Jeff Stafford, CEO and founder of Fishing Ammo; Rollie Stephenson, CEO and founder of Faith Technologies; and UWO Chancellor Richard H. Wells.
With a degree in business administration and buckets of basketball experience as a player, coach and trainer, Johnson saw a need for a training aid that would help players keep their fingers in the best position to master shooting and other key basketball skills.
Johnson also has plans to donate the bands to basketball players taking part in an upcoming Special Olympics event.
He created the prototype out of elastic and clothespins before switching to glue. Then Johnson had his mother sew the next version with elastic and thread. Today, the final product is manufactured from neoprene.