Fred Hoiberg and his staff have been busy this month putting their players through workouts and preparing to host their basketball camps, but it’s almost time to hit the road to start looking for the next generations of Huskers.
Friday marks the start of the next live evaluation period during which Division I coaches can be on the road watching prospects compete. Under the new recruiting calendar, two live periods have been created in June to put more of the recruiting process back in the hands of high school coaches. Select players will be able to participate in regional camps (18 players from Nebraska will travel down to Kansas City this weekend) and high school teams will also take part in camps (some from Nebraska will head to Rockford, Illinois next weekend), both opportunities to play in front of coaches.
The final live period of the summer will be July 11-14 after players rejoin their AAU teams.
“We’ll get out and see some players in July,” Hoiberg said at the Big Red Blitz stop in Fremont. “June’s camp season and getting guys back on campus to start with workouts so it’s time for us to really start looking towards the future as far as recruiting is concerned and we feel good about where we are right now.”
We’ve seen a flurry of offers go out this month, with the vast majority of them going to players in the 2021 class.
Currently, Nebraska is set to have just two scholarships open up next year after graduate transfers Matej Kavas and Haanif Cheatham exhaust their eligibility. The Huskers also already have two players committed for the 2020 class in Donovan Williams, the local guard from Lincoln North Star who is recovering from a torn ACL suffered in the spring, and D’Andre Davis, a talented wing from Lawrence Central in Indianapolis. That means, as things stand, Nebraska doesn’t have any more scholarships for that class.
That hasn’t stopped the staff from issuing offers, however. Since Hoiberg took over, at least 11 new offers have gone out to 2020 prospects: big men Jaylin Wiliams (4-star), Dain Dainja (4-star), Dawson Garcia (4-star) and Davion Bradford (3-star) and guards Bryce Thompson (4-star), Luke Kasubke (4-star), Deivion Smith (4-star) Kerwin Walton (3-star) Christian Wright (3-star), Eric Gaines (unranked) and Dylan Branson (unranked). Hoiberg would also be more than happy to accept a commitment from guys like John Hugley and Ben Carlson, a pair of 4-star frontcourt players offered by Tim Miles’ staff.
So if Nebraska doesn’t have any open spots, why make the offers? Well, for one, as we’ve seen in Fred Hoiberg’s brief time in Lincoln, he’s not afraid to recruit over players already on the roster. Attrition is also part of life in today’s college basketball. Four of the players Hoiberg signed in his first recruiting class at Iowa State did not return for Year 2.
Nebraska may not have any open spots now, but there’s no guarantee that will be the case after this season, which is why the staff will continue to recruit talented 2020 players just in case a spot or two opens up one way or another.
As for the 2021 class, the coaches have a bit more room to deal with. As things currently stand, Nebraska has three open scholarships for that class.
The new staff has issued at least 11 new offers to 2021 players: guards Devin Askew (5-star), Terrence Clark (5-star), Bryce McGowens (unranked) and Kennedy Chandler (unranked), wings Jonathan Kuminga (5-star) and Jordan Nesbitt (4-star) and big men Josh Taylor (4-star), Adama Sanogo (4-star), Frank Anselem (4-star), Wilhelm Breidenbach (4-star) and Gabe Wiznitzer (unranked).
The coaches have also reached out to a handful of players who received offers from the previous staff to reaffirm their interest. Included among that group is 5-star wing Kendall Brown, unranked power forward Matthew Mors, unranked wing Bryce Hopkins and the pair of in-state players, Hunter Sallis (4-star wing from Millard North) and Chucky Hepburn (3-star point guard from Bellevue West). In fact, Hepburn took an unofficial visit to campus on Saturday and Sallis was scheduled to visit on Wednesday.
The coaches have even gotten a heart start on the 2022 class with offers out to Dior Johnson and Tamin Lipsey, both of whom should be ranked very highly in their class when the time comes.
Hoiberg has the reputation of heavily utilizing the transfer market, and with good reason, but some of his best players in Ames were traditional high school recruits as well. If this first class is anything to go off of, Hoiberg and lead recruiting assistant Matt Abdelmassih will leave no stone unturned in the search for talent. They brought in two grad transfers, two junior college transfers, three traditional transfers and four freshmen (including one from overseas).
The coaches did a great job of closing the deal with those players when they brought them on campus as their success rate with visits during the spring was terrific.
“I think nine of the 14 that we had on campus committed to us,” Hoiberg said. “We’ve got a lot to sell. That was one of the really attractive things about this job was, number one, the facilities — I think we’ve got as good of facilities as anybody in college athletics all across the board. The support is the other thing that you look for and we’ve got 15,500 seats in a great arena and every seat is sold for next season already. So you’ve got the support, you’ve got the facilities. The way that the athletic department takes care of the student-athletes is as good as I’ve ever seen so we’ve got a lot to sell. Guys that we’ve had on campus so far have bought into it and we’re thankful to get a lot of these players that we have.”
This next month is all about determining which players to add to their recruiting board and which players to prioritize, but it seems like the coaches are already off to great start in Lincoln.
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.