De Pere’s Pritzl named assistant coach at UWGB
By Greg Bates
GREEN BAY – When Brandon Pritzl graced the De Pere High School basketball court, he was known for his scoring touch and his ability to lead.
Since graduating 10 years ago, Pritzl’s leadership qualities have continued to grow.
It wasn’t a surprise to his high school coach, Brian Winchester, that Pritzl took up coaching.
After being a Division II college men’s assistant coach for three years, Pritzl is coming back home to be an assistant coach for the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB) men’s basketball program.
“It wasn’t a goal, I would say,” Pritzl said. “There’s always a little piece that you’d love to be back in Wisconsin and doing stuff here. It was something that popped up I wanted to pursue.”
After UWGB hired Will Ryan as its head coach June 7, Pritzl had an inside track on an assistant position.
The pair were on the same staff together at Ohio University from 2014-16 when Pritzl was a graduate assistant and Ryan – who is the son of former UW-Madison men’s basketball coach, Bo – was an assistant coach.
When Ryan accepted the head job at UWGB, Pritzl reached out to him.
“I had a second interview, and he called July 3 and said, ‘Hey, would you be willing to join me?’” Pritzl said. “I said, ‘Absolutely.’”
Pritzl played at Hillsdale College, a Division II school in Michigan, from 2010-14 and was a three-year starter.
He accepted a graduate assistant position at Ohio University for two years before heading back to Hillsdale in 2016-17.
He spent three seasons as an assistant coach before being promoted to associate head coach this past April.
“It’s deserving with how hard he’s worked to get the UWGB job,” said Winchester. “He played at the Division II level and coached at the Division II level, and oftentimes, it’s hard to get a job above the level you’re at.”
Pritzl was an assistant at Hillsdale under longtime coach John Tharp, with whom Pritzl played for and coached with for a total of seven years.
“Coach Tharp did an incredible job of giving me lots of responsibility early on,” Pritzl said. “Being a younger guy, I had to figure out how to relate to the guys on the team. Early on, I was two years older than they were. He gave me lots of responsibility with workouts, recruiting, practice planning and scouting. There are lots of things I got to do alone and figure out.”
Winchester said Pritzl is intelligent and had a high IQ during his four years as a starter for the Redbirds.
“He was able to see the game at a high level,” Winchester said. “He understood what was happening on the floor and how to adjust.”
Pritzl finished second on De Pere’s all-time scoring list with 1,337 points.
His younger brother, Brevin, later moved into first place, pushing his brother back to third.
As a senior in 2010, Pritzl was named the Fox River Classic Conference Player of the Year.
He’s currently fourth in career three-pointers (135) and sixth in assists (229) at De Pere.
“He was a talented and hardworking player,” Winchester said. “His maturity as a basketball player was apparent – he was a leader. That certainly allowed him to play as a freshman.”
Pritzl, a three-year starter in college, was a two-time, Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference All-Defensive team recipient.
Pritzl, who started his new job July 13, said he is hoping his familiarity with the Green Bay area will be advantageous when it comes to recruiting players.
“I was hoping my connection to the area and my experience with Green Bay would help in the process,” Pritzl said. “I understand what type of players Coach Ryan values and how he wants to play. I’ve seen that firsthand working with him.”
Winchester said he’s looking forward to attending UWGB games to watch his former player.
He said Pritzl coming back to coach in Green Bay is a great thing for the De Pere boys’ basketball program and the Green Bay area.
“Whatever role Coach Ryan has him do, Brandon will be good at it,” Winchester said. “He’s a team guy.”
Pritzl said he hopes this opportunity will help him land his dream job down the road.
“I want to be a head coach eventually, whether that’s Division I, Division II or Division III,” he said. “You’d love to be at the highest level working with the best guys, but if it’s something where you can enjoy it, have fun, work with good kids and have good people around you in the athletic department, I don’t think level matters.”