Out of nowhere on Tuesday morning, Fred Hoiberg and his staff completed their 2020 recruiting class, and they did it with their first high school commitment of the cycle.
I can’t say Eduardo Andre was on my radar. In fact, I’d never heard of him. But after looking into him as much as I could, I think Nebraska did a heck of a job here.
I’ve written before about the big question I have about the Hoiberg era in Lincoln. As if his time at Iowa State wasn’t enough proof, what he did in year one at Nebraska from a teaching and Xs-and-Os perspective leaves me no doubt that he’ll get the most out of his team. The question is can he get enough talent to Lincoln for that to matter?
We’ll see just how good the sitout transfers and the transfers he added this cycle are. Missing out on Adama Sanogo, the top-100 center that picked UConn over Nebraska and Seton Hall, was a tough blow, but securing that kind of high school talent would have put the Huskers ahead of schedule if we’re looking at the Cyclones playbook.
In year one, Hoiberg did what he could to piece together a roster for a .500 season, then in year two the transfers he had sitting out took the court and led the team to the NCAA Tournament. Fresh off that success, Hoiberg landed Georges Niang, a top-100 recruit who was a four-year cornerstone for the Cyclones as new transfers joined the team every year.
We’re going to have to wait a bit longer to see if Hoiberg can land his Niang in Lincoln. But for now, the coaches landed someone who I think can help.
From a roster standpoint, landing a freshman with that 13th scholarship is a good move because it balances out the classes at least a little bit. Nebraska will have eight upperclassmen on the team in 2020-21 plus four sophomores. Adding youth for Hoiberg and his staff to develop is preferable to adding another upperclassman transfer that would just create more of a logjam.
As for the player himself, he has the chance to bring a lot of the same things to the table as Sanogo, even if he isn’t as highly-touted. He’s different than anybody on the roster right now.
Standing 6-foot-10 or so with long arms and a good motor, Andre has the chance to be a pretty impactful rim protector. In 2019-20, Dachon Burke Jr. — a 6-foot-4 guard — led the Huskers in blocked shots at 0.6 per game. On a related note, Nebraska was last in the Big Ten in 2-point field goal percentage allowed. Shot-blocking could definitely be a way for Andre to get on the court early.
He moves well for his size and attacks the glass on both ends. He still needs to put some weight on his frame—he’s listed at 220 pounds—but he made some big strides physically from his junior to his senior year based on highlight tape. Andre didn’t start playing basketball until he was 14 or 15, and you could tell with some of his junior clips that he was still growing into his body. As a senior, he was getting off the ground much quicker and finishing above the rim much more easily.
Beyond the physical tools, I can see why Matt Abdelmassih and Hoiberg thought Andre would be a good fit at Nebraska. His skill level in multiple areas shows some real promise. He’s a traditional big man in the sense that he's comfortable around the basket and is pretty good at sealing his defender off for an easy entry-pass opportunity, but he’s also able to step out on the court and face up his defenders.
He has a quick first step and can put the ball on the deck as his long strides allow him to get to the rim with just one dribble. He seems to be incredibly left-hand dominant, and that will be an issue once defenses pick up on it, but the potential is certainly there. He didn’t take any jump shots in the highlights I saw, but he does have a soft touch with that left hand, dropping in multiple jump hooks or push shots. One thing that really caught my eye was his passing. He did a good job of finding open teammates and was patient against double-teams, surveying the court and making the right play instead of panicking.
He’s still raw, but he definitely has the base line of skills to fit well within Hoiberg’s space-and-pace, five-out offense.
Highlights only tell part of the story, so I can’t say with any degree of certainty how good Andre really is. But he’ll have a chance to compete for minutes right away because he brings things nobody else on the team does. I’d anticipate Derrick Walker will be the starter at the five, but it seems like it will be an open competition between Walker, Yvan Ouedraogo and Andre for minutes at the center spot.
Eduardo Andre won’t be Fred Hoiberg’s new Georges Niang like Adama Sanogo could have been, but with a little polishing he could end up being Hoiberg’s new Melvin Ejim, an unheralded 3-star recruit who made an immediate impact and developed into a key piece for the Cyclones over his four years.