Coach Tim Miles issued an in-state offer to a 2019 prospect on Saturday and the name might ring some bells for Nebrasketball fans.
Akol Arop, the younger brother of one-time Nebraska commit Aguek Arop, received his first high-major offer from the Huskers on Saturday night after tearing it up at the Adidas Gauntlet Finale in New York.
Nebraska’s offer came after a flurry of others as many coaches took notice of the 6-foot-5 forward. The Omaha Sports Academy Crusaders made a deep run in the event with Arop leading the way.
“It’s been great and just been a blessing because I’ve been working so hard for this the last few months, working on my shot especially and my dribbling, and it’s really paying off,” Arop told Hail Varsity. “Getting all these coaches contacting me, it’s just a great thing.”
Arop’s first offer came from Omaha and Drake offered him in the spring. Since July began, he’s also picked up offers from Towson, San Diego, UNC-Greensboro and UAB in addition to his offer from Nebraska.
OSA made it to the Elite Eight of the 17U division before falling to ITPS, one of the best teams in the country. OSA’s 16U team also made it to the quarterfinals of the tournament before losing. Arop said he was proud of what he and his teammate as well as the 16U Crusaders accomplished in New York.
“It’s just a big deal because us in Nebraska and Omaha, nobody really sees us as a basketball state,” Arop said. “We kind of put them on the map, trying to put our state on the map and make people realize that Nebraska is good at basketball and has talent.”
Nebraska offered Arop soon after OSA’s run in New York came to an end.
“At first I was in shock because it was just unbelievable, a Power Five conference offered me,” Arop said. “It’s great. I’ve just been working for it and it was good. I guess I deserved it. I’ve been working hard for it and he’s been watching me for about a month. He told me before he was going to offer, about in April, but then he waited to see how I progressed. He liked how I progressed and he offered me, so it was good.”
Arop averaged 19.6 points and 6.3 rebounds while shooting 25-of-36 from the field and 6-of-10 from 3-point range in OSA’s three games in New York while playing against some of the best players in the country, which is what Arop said he believes led to Miles pulling the trigger.
“Going up against the teams and their best players, guarding their best players, going at them, giving it my all, showing what I can do,” Arop said. “Dribbling the ball, attacking the basket, scoring, getting defensive stops, blocks. Helping my team win.”
The elder Arop committed to Nebraska during the summer after his freshman season, but the two sides parted before Arop made it to Lincoln and Aguek spent last season at The Skill Factory, a prep school in Atlanta, before signing with San Diego State. However, Akol is his own man and his brother’s recruitment will not factor into his decision.
“Not at all,” Arop said. “It’s different, mine and his recruitment. He did his own thing. I respect him for that; hopefully he does well where he’s at right now, San Diego State, and hopefully I do well wherever I end up.”
Last season, Arop led Omaha Creighton Prep to the Class A state title and a 26-1 overall record. He averaged 16.0 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.1 blocks while converting 66 percent of his field goal attempts. However, he is the only starter back from that team and will have far more responsibility next year for the Junior Jays.
“It’s going to be tough on me; I’ve got to be a leader, I’ve got to step up,” Arop said. “I have to teach these young guys they have to realize they’re at the varsity level now, not the freshman or JV. It’s way tougher competition. You’re not always going to win games. I just have to be the leader for the team.”
Arop’s increased responsibility isn’t just about leadership, however. He served mostly as a screener in a spread pick-and-roll offense with an occasional post touch for the Junior Jays last season, but head coach Josh Luedtke has bigger plans for his star player as a senior.
“Coach Andy King, Josh Luedtke have been talking about and working on the game with me, my outside jumper and my dribbling have gotten a lot better and I feel after these past two weekends, I showed I can play on the outside,” Arop said. “I’m going to get better, so I guess that’s what they’re going to get from me.”
Arop still has two tournaments left in his AAU career — the Adidas Summer Championships in Los Angeles, California, and the Jayhawk Summer Finale in Overland Park, Kansas — and then he’s going to take some time to think about his future.
“After my last tournament, in August, I’ll probably narrow down my schools that I want to go to,” Arop said. “Before the season starts, hopefully I’ll commit to a school that I like. I’ll take some official visits before I commit. I just want to do it so I don’t have to worry about it during basketball season.”