Nebraska basketball was, for the first time in a while, not pathetic. An early win over Creighton signaled this team was better than recent vintage, and despite a lot of injuries they finished 16-16 and had nine wins in conference. That’s the same number Hoiberg and company had in the three previous seasons combined. It wasn’t good enough for an NCAA bid, or even an NIT bid, but dammit, it was something.
The Huskers do lose some guys. Big man Derrick Sky Walker and and wing Sam Weasel Griesel both ran out of eligibility, as did Emmanuel Samuel Wamuel Bandoumel. Lightly used freshman wing Denim Jacket Dawson transferred to Tennessee State. Also headed out were Kaiser Wilhelm Breidenbach, who went to Washington, and Oleg Neckbreaker Kojonets, who is headed to Wyoming.
PG Ahron Ulis, 6’3’’ 4th Year: We’re gonna write this one in pencil. Ulis is a transfer from Fran’s Iowa Hawkeyes after playing there for three seasons and starting 27 games for the Hawkeyes last year. He was never particularly effective or good, but an experienced point guard is still an experienced point guard. Unfortunately, he has gotten caught up in the Gigantic Iowa Gambling Ring, and his availability this year is uncertain. If he isn’t eligible, Hoiberg may move Tominaga over or...well, read on for Hoiberg’s options.
SG Keisei Tominaga, 6’2’’ 5th Year: Keisei the Blade came to Nebraska to chew bubble gum and make buckets, and last year he was all out of bubble gum. He upped his points to 13 a game on 62/40/87 splits, and had 9 games with at least 20 points. The man can shoot, and Nebraska will likely lean on him even more this season. The best version of Nebraska probably involves Tominaga just lighting up the basket and everyone playing off him.
SF C.J. Wilcher, 6’5’’ 4th Year: The former X-Man should slide in at wing or shooting guard. He and Nebraska are hoping for some improvement - he had a rough go of it last year and saw his shooting percentages drop markedly. A Wilcher who shoots 40% from three, paired with Tominaga, is quite the threat. Shooting 31% like last year isn’t nearly as scary.
PF Juwan Gary, 6’6’’ 4th Year: Gary was a big addition last year from Alabama, but a midseason shoulder injury sent him packing. Up to that point, he was a plus rebounder who could score around the basket. That’s worth a lot when you can get some shooters around him, as Nebraska might be able to do.
C Rienk Mast, 6’9’’ 4th Year: Mast the Flying Dutchman is a new face, transferring over from Bradley. He helped Bradley win the Missouri Valley Conference with 13 and 8 a game on 56/35/74 splits. Always hard to tell how these stats transfer to the Big Ten, though he did get 14 and 12 against Wisconsin in the NIT last season.
PF Josiah Allick, 6’8’’ 5th Year: The Hoiberg Transfer Wheel goes round and round, and out comes Allick, a big man who comes to Nebraska by way of New Mexico and the University of Missouri (Kansas City). He can rebound and make bunnies and could end up starting in bigger lineups.
SF Brice Williams, 6’7’’ 4th Year: Another transfer, this time from Charlotte. Williams led the 49ers in scoring on efficient shooting (54/40/84). He also showed some rebounding could start at the wing if Tominaga and Wilcher move over.
CG Jarron Coleman, 6’5’’ 5th Year: Another spot, another transfer. Coleman was a very late addition to the team likely prodded by the dubious nature of Ahron Ulis’ elgibility. He comes from Ball State, though for some reason he put in a year at Missouri among his three with the Cardinals. He led Ball State in both scoring and assists last year, so he’s not a benchwarmer. While his assist numbers have been good, he’s been pretty inefficient otherwise so it’s unlikely the Huskers will want him shooting a bunch.
SG Jamarques Lawrence, 6’3’’ 2nd Year: Lawrence is an actual returning player for Hoiberg. He was lightly used most of the year, but did get some playing time at the end of the season and responded, finishing in double figures for their last three games. He is still a depth piece now but figures to get more reliable minutes behind Tominaga.
F Eli Rice, 6’6’’ 1st Year: Rice is the sole freshman in the class, and he checked in at 200 on the ol’ composite. He’s been listed as a power forward, a wing, and a shooting guard, so maybe he is a Choose Your Own Adventure Player. He did look good on their recent trip to Spain, for what that’s worth.
C Blaise Keita, 6’11’’ Third Year: Keita was a JUCO transfer last season and was somewhat highly rated. He started out getting reliable minutes but a mixture of injuries and ineffectiveness confined him to the bench. Expect him to get more reliable minutes this season as a backup to Mast.
PG Ramel Lloyd, Jr., 6’6’’ 2nd Year: Lloyd was a freshman last season and I can find no record he actually played. Consider him a redshirt freshman who probably won’t play much this year either.
PG Sam Hoiberg, 6’0’’ 2nd Year: Hoiberg has an in with the head coach, and could get some minutes this year given Nebraska’s point guard issues. I’m not terribly certain he’s on scholarship, but the children of staff don’t pay tuition at Nebraska anyway.
A Conversation With Our Writers
MaximumSam: All right everybody, how is Nebrasketball hitting you this season?
BoilerUp89: Keisei Tominaga is super fun to watch.
Jesse Collins: Keisei (Swaggy K) is the most entertaining player in the history of Nebrasketball. Not the best by any stretch but the absolute joy, recklessness, and skill at all times is a delight. I want us to be good, but really, I want him to succeed.
MaximumSam: Noted. Tominaga is the man. How about the rest of the team?
BoilerUp89: Nebraska took a big step forward last year. Dead cat bounce or real turnaround? Does it matter which it was with the Cornhuskers losing three starters?
Huge Tominaga fan. Guy makes Nebrasketball much watch television. CJ Wilcher is a better shooter than he showed last season and I expect him to bounce back. I like Rienk Mast from Bradley - although I’m sad he left Bradley. I do have concerns about him moving up in competition level as at 6’9” he’s a bit undersized for a Big Ten center.
Getting a guy that started 27 games for Iowa last year in Ahron Ulis to transfer in is super interesting. Ulis didn’t have the best offensive season but hey he was a starter on a NCAA tournament team.
Allick could start at PF, he’s a solid interior scorer and rebounder and played well for New Mexico last year. Jarron Coleman took a lot of shots for Ball State last season, but was over 35% from three and despite his high shot total had a bunch of assists too.
And Brice Williams was a 39.7% shooter from three last year at Charlotte. Lot of nice pieces and once thing Hoiberg has a history of is having success with a lot of transfers.
Concerns would be post depth. They’ve got shooters, they’ve got guys that can rebound, and guys that can defend. The more I look the more I can talk myself into Nebraska flirting with .500 in the B1G this year.
BuffKomodo: Nebrasketball is intriguing because I assume they’ll be bad. However, it makes me nervous to play them at Nebby. I liked their team last year and it feels like they’re finally making traction as a program. We’ll see how it carry’s over.
midreavus79: The end of last season is the Nebraska team we all expected we would get when Fred Hoiberg was hired. Whether due to injury or literally flipping the roster after each season (sorry Deion, Fred did it first), Nebraska has found itself in situations where continuity simply wasn’t there. Now, with a returning core, I wouldn’t be surprised if they perform to potential all year long, instead of just for a small stretch of the season.
MaximumSam: Feeling the same. The point guard situation is unfortunately murky, but thee rest of the team provides Nebraska fans...hope? Another season of competitive basketball is on its way in Lincoln.