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McCabe back home with Green Bay Phoenix men’s basketball


By Rich Palzewic

Contributing Writer

GREEN BAY – Former Kaukauna High School basketball standout Jordan McCabe is back home.

The West Virginia University and UNLV (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) collegiate player was recently announced as an assistant coach for the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB) men’s basketball team.

McCabe was offered the job when former UWGB Coach Sundance Wicks was still on staff, but current Coach Doug Gottlieb retained him.

After leading the Phoenix to an overall record of 18-14 and 13-7 in Horizon League play this season, Wicks accepted the head job at the University of Wyoming.

“It means everything to come back home to me,” McCabe said. “The Fox Valley area is the place that raised me – I moved around a lot as a kid. But Northeastern Wisconsin is my family and the place I call home. I couldn’t be more excited to push a great culture forward at Green Bay.”

The 25-year-old McCabe said coaching was always in the back of his mind, even when he was playing in high school.

“Funny enough, coaching started to become front of mind when I was playing at Kaukauna,” he said. “I’ve had the privilege of playing for some great coaches, but I think the one who put the bug in my ear (about coaching) was Coach (Michael) Schalow at Kaukauna. He showed me the impact you can make on a group of players positively – that’s when it started. I don’t think you can say enough great things about Coach Schalow – he’s a great person and coach.”

McCabe said toward the end of his collegiate playing career, he reached out to former West Virginia Coach Bob Huggins, who coached there from 2007-23, about a possible assistant coaching role.

Huggins also coached McCabe when he was a member of the Mountaineers’ team from 2018-21.

“Huggins got me directly into the coaching world,” McCabe said. “After (Huggins) left West Virginia, I was able to stay on (as an assistant coach). I was in love with the job – I hate to even call it a job.”

Coaching at a young age

As a sophomore in 2016, McCabe helped lead the Ghosts to a Division 2 state championship win over Waunakee, 91-62 – he was also named the Fox Valley Association Player of the Year. He averaged 25 points as a junior, committing to West Virginia before the season.

McCabe led all scorers with 32 points in the Division 2 state championship game as a senior in 2018 and made the game-winning shot with 3.5 seconds left in a 76-74 victory over Milwaukee Washington.

After his senior season, he earned Associated Press State Player of the Year and was named Mr. Basketball by the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association.

McCabe finished his high school career as the state’s sixth all-time leading scorer with 2,442 points and was a four-year starter at Kaukauna (2015-18), averaging almost 27 points per contest during his high school career.

Through all the accolades, McCabe said his coaching at such a young age – as he did for a year at West Virginia in 2023-24 under interim head coach Josh Eilert – prepared him for coaching at UWGB.

“I’ve thought about the age gap between me and the players I coach,” he said. “How does that dynamic work and what kind of value do you bring? What I figured out is, I can be a bridge between player and coach in an impactful way – I’m still navigating that. I think there is a lot of value in what I can bring to a team. With my close age to the players, I can relate more and connect with them.”

Getting hired at UWGB

McCabe said his relationship with Wicks started way before his playing career ended.

“I think it was at a Chris Paul (NBA player for the Golden State Warriors) camp in late middle school or early high school,” he said. “Coach Wicks was helping at that camp and was my coach there – I fell in love with his energy, and it had a lasting impact.”

McCabe said when Wicks left for Wyoming after this past season, “there was a sense of uncertainty, but I wasn’t nervous.”

“In the new world of college basketball, change is the only constant (with the transfer portal and players leaving early for the NBA draft),” he said. “When Coach Gottlieb was hired, we were all confident in a matter of days in his ability to connect with people and his vision going forward.”

Gottlieb was named the 10th head coach in Green Bay men’s basketball history in mid-May.

Gottlieb, well-known for his broadcasting career, brings with him a wealth of experience as a player, commentator, analyst and coach in the basketball world.

As a broadcaster, he currently hosts the Doug Gottlieb Show on Fox Sports Radio and All Ball, a podcast covering the biggest stories across college basketball and the NBA.

“At first, I think there was uncertainty for (Gottlieb) as well,” McCabe said. “The way he and I talked early on, I think he saw the vision Coach Wicks had for me as a recruiter assistant. Being from the (Fox) Valley. When I walk into a high school gym in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and Michigan, it will be nice to have a recognizable face for those athletes – that gets the conversation started. I think (Gottlieb) trusted in my ability to foster and grow relationships everywhere, but specifically in recruiting. He had enough trust and faith to keep me onboard in that spot.”

McCabe said it’s a new coach’s choice if they retain assistants for the program.

“It’s all up them – whether they retain an assistant coach or cut ‘dead weight,’” he said. “I can say, there was no ‘dead weight’ left here at Green Bay with how they put together the staff. It’s a two-party deal, and both parties have to come to an agreement that this is the right place for them. Coach Gottlieb and I came to that conclusion quite quickly.”

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