It may be the college basketball offseason, but that does not mean the coaches get to relax. Recruiting is the lifeblood of college hoops, and July is the biggest recruiting month of the year. This month, Division I coaches have three windows during which they can be on the road evaluating and recruiting high school prospects.
The first of these live periods began on Wednesday and the Nebraska staff is currently traveling around checking in on some of their top targets. Below are some of the players the Nebraska coaches have their eyes on in the 2018 class, where Nebraska currently has five scholarships to give if the staff chooses to roll the remaining open 2017 scholarship over to 2018.
Eric Hunter, Shooting Guard, Gary Harris Elite (Indianapolis, Indiana)
Finalists: Butler, Minnesota Nebraska, Ohio State, Purdue, Xavier
Hunter is one of if not the top prospect on Nebraska’s board. The Huskers want to find a partner for Thomas Allen in the backcourt of the future and Hunter looks like he’d be a perfect fit. The Southpaw from Indiana has enough size at 6-foot-3 to play shooting guard and would form a deadly shooting backcourt with Allen. He has a smooth floor game with an effortless stroke from the perimeter. Hunter is a 4-star recruit and top-150 prospect for most scouting services and included the Huskers in his final six (although noted that he was open to new offers).
Nebraska has shown Hunter a lot of attention, attending his games both with his high school team and with his AAU team throughout the recruiting process.
Keyshawn Embery, Combo-Guard, Oklahoma Run PWP (Midwest City, Oklahoma)
Finalists: Creighton, Houston, Nebraska, Purdue, Tulsa
Embery is another of Nebraska’s top targets in the backcourt who also would be a great complement for Allen down the road. Emery is a 6-foot-3, 175 pound guard with explosive athleticism who can play above the rim. Emery can play the point but is more of a natural scorer and Nebraska sees him as a shooting guard who would have plenty of chances to handle the ball. Emery has the ability to break defenders down off the dribble, especially in transition, and he is a strong finisher around the basket. He also loves the pull-up jumper and his range extends well beyond the high school 3-point line.
Embery has already visited Nebraska unofficially, and among his five finalists, Nebraska was the second team to offer him behind only Tulsa. Rivals has Embery rated as a 4-star.
Race Thompson, Forward, D1 Minnesota (Plymouth, Minnesota)
Offers: Arizona State, Baylor, Creighton, Indiana, Iowa State, Kansas State, Marquette, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Providence, others
Thompson is perhaps the most highly sought-after big man the Huskers are targeting and competition for him is steep with high-major offers coming from all over the country. Listed at 6-foot-8 and 200 pounds, Thompson is a bit of a tweeter but has the skill to play both inside and out. He’s comfortable in the post with his back to the basket and shows good touch on a fall-away jumper, and he can also step out and face up defenders from the perimeter. Thompson is a fluid athlete who can run the floor and dunks everything around the rim.
The Huskers offered Thompson about a year ago and coaches have watched him play multiple times since, but he has not yet visited the campus nor has he narrowed his list.
Kyler Edwards, Shooting Guards, Team Boost (Bowie, Texas)
Offers: Georgetown, Georgia Tech, Houston, Iowa State, Kansas State, LSU, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, SMU, Texas Tech, USC, others
Edwards is another 4-star shooting guard the Huskers are hot on the trail after. Edwards has good size at 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds and is an outstanding athlete who is going to punch it with force any time he has an open lane to the basket. He also has terrific body control and is capable of hanging in the air, taking contact and finishing through it. He does a great job of squaring up his shoulders on his jump shot and can hit out to 23 feet without a problem.
Brady Heiman, Center, OSA Crusaders (Springfield, Nebraska)
Offers: Drake, Omaha, South Dakota
With Ed Chang coming off the board to Washington, Heiman is the top remaining in-state prospect in the 2018 class. The 6-foot-10, 195-pound Platteview High School center runs the floor very well for his size, has outstanding shot-blocking instincts and has improved his offensive skill tremendously over the last few years.
Nebraska watched Heiman closely throughout the spring and was back on the sidelines on Thursday as the Crusaders competed in the Adidas Gauntlet Finale in South Carolina. The Huskers have watched him work out and also had him down in Lincoln for an unofficial visit recently.
Nebraska has not yet pulled the trigger on offering Heiman, and they might not ever do so. However, the Huskers are certainly doing their due diligence and giving Heiman every chance to prove he is a Big ten prospect.
A.J. Green, Point Guard, Iowa Barnstormers (Cedar Falls, Iowa)
Offers: Clemson, Iowa State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northern Iowa, others
Green is a smooth floor general at 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds who is a pure shooter with a great feel for the game and excellent vision. The 4-star prospect can shoot off the catch or off the dribble and is able to rain 3s from well beyond the high school arc. Green fits well with Nebraska’s recent focus on improving the shooting and overall skill level on the team.
Nebraska was in on Green early and he talked about the Huskers with Scout’s Brian Snow in June. Said Green:
“They were one of the first schools that reached out to me so that means something. I like Coach (Tim) Miles and Coach (Michael) Lewis, and they are good guys down there who I have a good relationship with.”
One obstacle the Huskers will have to overcome is the fact that Green’s father is an assistant coach at Northern Iowa. Is Green more interested in playing at the highest level possible, or does he want to play for his dad? Only time will tell.
Other top targets: CJ Fredrick (3-star guard), Jimmy Nichols (3-star forward), Kezo Brown (3-star guard)
Recent 2018 offers: Grayson Carter (3-star forward), Aaron Henry (3-star forward), Nate Roberts (3-star forward)
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. 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.