Fred Hoiberg received some good news on Sunday afternoon as North Dakota State transfer and Lincoln native Sam Griesel announced his commitment to become a Husker.
“This is, I guess, technically my third time as far as the recruiting process, but just having that kind of knowledge and everything and not wanting to drag it on, once I felt comfortable and happy with my decision, or with the school, I was I was going to take it and be all in for it,” Griesel told Hail Varsity. “As far as Nebraska, it kind of came down to obviously, immediately, I loved the idea of it. Just being a Nebraska kid, watching Nebraska basketball for my whole life, going to camps and thinking those dudes were superheroes.
“As far as Nebraska, it just kind of came down to really getting getting in and talking to Fred and really getting to know him and working on our relationship and then getting to know some of the guys and the coaching staff that’s there right now as well and just making sure that we’re on the same page with everything Nebraska basketball moving forward.”
— Sam Griesel (@SammyG_22) March 20, 2022
Griesel, a Lincoln East, was a four-year starter for coach Dave Richman at North Dakota State. The 6-foot-6, 215-pound guard averaged 14.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists while shooting 48.2% from the field, 37.9% from 3 and 75.6% from the free-throw line this past season as he garnered All-Summit League honors.
Griesel announced he was entering the portal to explore his options on Tuesday and a flurry of schools reached out to him soon after, including Nebraska.
“They were one of the first,” Griesel said. “Hoiberg reached out to me right away and I talked to him on the phone within a few hours of me entering the portal and then I got in and was able to meet with him in person, took the official yesterday, and saw the facilities. I’ve been around the campus, so I didn’t need a whole shebang, whole tour. But yeah, just got down there and obviously loved what I saw, and, like I said, just worked on the relationship part with with Fred.”
Griesel heard from numerous programs including multiple coaches from the Big Ten and ACC as well as the other in-state high-major program in Creighton. He also has dual citizenship in Germany and considering overseas professional opportunities. But ultimately, the lure of home and the opportunities it my provide won out.
“I think as far as my dreams and aspirations when it comes to on the court, I have dreams of playing in the NBA and from an exposure standpoint and being able to play on that division game in and game out is big time and just the competition level,” Griesel said. “And honestly, a big part of part of it is being a Nebraska kid and and knowing the narrative around Nebraska basketball the last five to 10 years, and I have a big dream of coming in and kind of changing that narrative and really helping the culture aspect out of this place and just making a lasting impact on Nebraska basketball, even in a year.”
Hoiberg recruited Griesel to play point guard. With Alonzo Verge Jr.’s eligibility running out, the Huskers needed an experienced playmaker to run the offense and Griesel fits the bill for the kind of position-less playmakers Hoiberg likes in his system.
“He thinks I can come in and play point and really be the initiator of the offense, and he thinks I’m going to fit in really well with with their system and being a big guard in the Big Ten,” Griesel said. “He just he thinks I’ll be very successful in his system and being able to guard multiple positions. And then, obviously, off the court, just the culture aspect, being a Lincoln kid and just being able to do things in the community here and try to make an impact and a difference.”
Griesel averaged 17.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.6 steals as a senior at Lincoln East, guiding the Spartans to a 23-2 record and a state tournament appearance. He chose North Dakota State over offers from Omaha, South Dakota and others.
Griesel averaged just 6.4 points in 24.8 minutes per game during his first two years in Fargo. He broke out as a junior as the Bison moved him into more of a playmaking role, averaging 11.5 points and 3.0 assists in 33.9 minutes per game, and this season saw him make a leap in efficiency both inside the arc and from the 3-point line.
“I think especially this last year, the game just really slow down for me and I got more and more comfortable with the ball in my hands and just me being that primary decision-maker for the offense,” Griesel said. “It’s a big credit to the North Dakota State coaching staff and the teammates that I had; they believed me and that obviously helped. It’s just a lot of hard work and trusting the work and just building confidence to be honest.”
Griesel has played at Pinnacle Bank once before during his college career as the Bison visited Lincoln as part of the Golden Window Classic in November of 2020. He scored nine points and grabbed 12 rebounds in that game. He’s looking forward to returning to the arena sporting the scarlet and cream.
“It’s going to be a surreal moment for sure, especially when I put that jersey on and it says Huskers across my chest,” Griesel said. “But it’s going to be be awesome. I had both my grandparents pass away in the last year-and-a-half and one thing that my family’s been talking about is just how amazing this would be. My grandpa was really involved with the university. He timed a lot of basketball games; e did it for like 40 years or something. And so we have really strong ties and to Nebraska, especially Nebraska basketball, so it’s definitely going to be a surreal moment.”
Griesel’s message for Nebraska fans is simple: he understands the passion of the fan base and wants to be a part of a team the Husker faithful can be proud of and have fun supporting. He’ll get that chance with his final season of eligibility in 2022-23.
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.