On Thursday evening, new Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg swung through Omaha to meet with 2019 signee Akol Arop and the senior from Omaha Creighton Prep heard enough during that meeting to reaffirm his commitment to Nebraska.
“I’m all in for Nebraska,” Arop told Hail Varsity.
Shortly after that conversation, Arop made it official on Twitter.
Let’s Do This! All In!⚪️🔴🌽 #GoBigRed pic.twitter.com/FwfSIoldbI
— Akol Arop (@akol_33) April 5, 2019
Arop first committed to Nebraska under previous coach Tim Miles on Oct. 3 then signed with the Huskers during the first day of the early signing period. He led the Junior Jays to a 22-5 record and a state tournament appearance this season, averaging 19.4 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.6 blocks while shooting 62 percent from the floor.
“I have had really good conversations with the three guys, with Jervay [Green], Mika [Adams-Woods] and Akol,” Hoiberg said during his introductory press conference on Tuesday. “That is going to be a big thing this week. Getting out and seeing those guys and talking to them and hopefully securing their commitments. I understand, it is tough when a change is made and they all have great questions for me. The important thing now is to get in front of them and to start building a relationship where they’re comfortable with us and with our current staff.”
Arop met with Hoiberg around 5 p.m. on Thursday.
“When I first met him, he was a polite, nice guy,” Arop said. “He’s just a really nice guy, just like [Tim] Miles, he’s the type of guy that when you see you know he has a good personality … It was great. We sat down and talked briefly about his background a little bit, where he came from, and just about my position. He likes my form but he wants to work on my shot to get it consistent. He likes my athleticism; he said I fit well with his play style, so that was good.”
At 6-foot-6 and 190 pounds, Arop has played primarily as a post in high school. He shot 27 percent (13-49) from 3 this season after attempting just 16 3s during his first two seasons of varsity competition.
During his press conference, Hoiberg mentioned the work he and his staff did with Dustin Hogue, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound forward who played for tham at Iowa State after a stop at junior college. Hoiberg said Hogue wasn’t much of a shooter at Indian Hills but as a senior at Iowa State, he shot 43.1 percent.
“He said this last couple days he’s been watching film on me and he likes the way I play,” Arop said. “It’s great, because I know his background a little bit coming from Iowa State and I know he can take people to the next level and I’m hoping he can do that with me. I want to take it to the next level and I think he’s the type of coach that can do that.”
Hoiberg didn’t make the trip to Omaha by himself, however. He brought assistant coach Matt Abdelmassih with him. The former St. John’s assistant who worked with Hoiberg at Iowa State is the only assistant who has signed a contract with Nebraska at this point. Armon Gates, one of Miles’ assistants who is in consideration for a position on Hoiberg’s staff, also made the trip to see Arop. Gates joined Miles’ staff in May and was present for Hoiberg’s press conference on Tuesday.
“I got to meet Matt, the assistant coach from St. John’s, and I like him too,” Arop said. “He was a really nice guy. Armon Gates, he was there too … I like him, he always has a smile on his face,”
On Wednesday, Hoiberg flew out to Scottsbluff to meet with another 2019 signee in Western Nebraska Community College guard Jervay Green. As of Thursday night, Green had not announced whether he’d stick with his commitment to Nebraska or ask for a release from his letter of intent. He did take to Twitter on Thursday night, however.
Decisions decisions 🤦🏾♂️
— Jervay Green#23 (@JervayG) April 4, 2019
“I’m just waiting to see what he says,” Arop said. “I might DM him on Twitter or something like that, tell him ‘Let’s go. If you want to make it to the next level, he’s the guy to play for.’ I’m going to try to keep all the recruits that Miles and Lewis got to stay with this guy.”
Nebraska’s other 2019 signee, New Hampton (New Hampshire) guard Mika Adams-Woods, announced earlier on Thursday that he was reopening his recruitment but that he would still consider Nebraska.
Nebraska currently has four open scholarships pending Green’s decision, Isaiah Roby’s draft decision and any other player movement following Hoiberg’s individual meetings with the players set for Friday.
Jacob Padilla has been writing for Hail Varsity since 2015. He covers football, volleyball men’s basketball and prep sports. He also co-hosts the Nebraska Preps Postgame and Nebraska Shootaround podcasts for the Hurrdat Media and Hail Varsity podcast networks. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.