Heart over Height: Jazz Johnson's journey to the Wolf Pack

What if I told you an undersized transfer makes the Nevada Wolf Pack go?

"I wanted to make sure that when I got my opportunities I was going to make the best of it."

"If you pass me the ball I'm gonna knock it down for you," added Jazz Johnson.

"He's a dog. He's a little pit bull," says Caleb Martin.

To understand Jazz Johnson's alpha mentality, we need to start a generation earlier in California's Bay Area.

"My dad was a really good player out of Oakland," Jazz said. "He played with guys like Gary Payton and Jason Kidd. I go back home with him and guys tell me he was better than them two."

But a life on the court was not meant to be for Leland Johnson.

Jazz said "he got shot in the stomach and he still has the bullet next to his spine in his back. After that a guy shot him again in the head…it's made him the great man he is today."

The traumatic incident paralyzed Leland, but his injuries didn't keep him from helping Jazz become a better man on and off the court.

"When I'm going through something it's not nearly what he's been through. It keeps me going."

And Jazz has to keep going. At only 5-foot-10 he's been overlooked on the court his entire life.

"When you're short you have to be tough," he said.

"I'm going to do the things you don't want to do in order to be successful," he said.

That attitude landed Jazz a scholarship at the University of Portland – 25 minutes from where he finished high school in Lake Oswego.

But his journey with the Pilots was short lived.

"To even make it to the tournament I had to beat Gonzaga, Saint Mary's, BYU… I was playing with a miracle and at the end of the day you have to win," Jazz remembered.

After his sophomore season the guard decided to transfer. It was only a matter of time before Eric Musselman – with help from his son – offered Jazz a spot in the Pack.

"We were in John Wayne Airport coming back from my son's AAU game and we were more watching film and obviously a teenage son going into his senior year of high school in the summer doesn't want to watch Saint Mary's against Portland and finally Matty Muss got up and said 'dad, he's really, really good. If you don't take him it's on you and I'm going to get a burrito," Musselman remembered.

"I never thought I'd be a part of something like this," Jazz said.

But Jazz is more than just a part. He's emerged as Nevada's premier sharpshooter. Small in stature, but big in his play, he's now helping the Wolf Pack run toward the Final Four.

"I've worked so hard, finally I've gotten this opportunity to show what I can do on the court. Heart over height. That's basically my life."