At 3-0 with three blowout wins, the present is looking pretty good for Nebraska basketball. The current Huskers aren’t the only ones that have gotten off to a great start this season, however, and because of that the future is looking bright as well.
On Wednesday, all three of Nebraska’s 2019 recruits signed their letters of intent to play at Nebraska. That includes junior college guard Jervay Green who is tearing it up with the Western Nebraska Community College Cougars.
The Cougars got off to a 3-0 start before dropping their last two games, and Green is putting up some video game-type numbers. Green is fifth in NJCAA Division I in scoring at 27 points per game and is shooting 52.2 percent from the field and 41.3 percent from deep on high volume. He has games of 24 points and nine assists; 29 points, six rebounds and five assists; 30 points and 44 points and eight rebounds.
“Jervay is a big, strong guard who can make plays from both guard positions,” Coach Tim Miles said in a release. “He is a beast. I am so thankful that he saw his future here because I think he is going to be a difference-maker for us. He can guard and is putting up astounding numbers this season. I believe what he can do on junior college level is transferrable to our level and the Big Ten.”
Green’s numbers caught my attention, so I went back and watched some of his game tape from this year (videos are available on Western Nebraska’s website), and he looks like the real deal.
Green is playing point guard for Western Nebraska, and he is a solid ball-handler and a willing passer with good vision. However, he’s also far too turnover prone (almost a 1:1 assist-to-turnover ratio), with some of his turnovers coming on careless or off-target passes or when he’s out of control. I think he fits best as a playmaking off-guard at the next level.
Green is an impressive athlete with the ability to get to the rim and finish at a high rate or get fouled, and we knew that based on his freshman season. That’s all still true. However, the biggest reason for excitement is the massive leap he’s made as a shooter. Green shot 25-of-86 from 3 (29.1 percent) all of last year and he’s already 19-of-46 through five games. He’s taking nearly 10 3s a game and is hitting 41 percent of them. He’s hitting them both off the catch and off the dribble, and isn’t afraid to pull up from well beyond the 3-point line.
He’s still struggling to hit his free throws (50 percent this year, 66.2 percent) and that is always a red flag when we’re dealing with small sample size shooting percentages, but if he can keep this up he’s already addressed what looked to be his biggest weakness before even setting foot on Nebraska’s campus.
Green was a huge get for Miles and his staff.
First of all, the Huskers beat out some quality schools to secure his services. Ole Miss, TCU, Wichita State and VCU were among the schools that had offered the junior college guard, and others likely would have followed had he not signed with Nebraska on Wednesday. And that right there is another win — they locked him up early when he likely would have drawn a lot more interest before the later signing period if he keeps putting these kinds of numbers up. It seems like he’s all in on Nebraska.
That offer list makes Green the only one of Nebraska’s three commits for whom the Huskers had to beat out other high-majors. Georgia Tech was the only other high-major to offer prep point guard Mika Adams-Woods with Nevada as his most high-profile mid-major offer. In-state wing Akol Arop held only mid-major offers other than Nebraska. Miles is hoping he found a couple of hidden gems in Adams-Woods and Arop; Green is more of a sure thing.
Green’s experience will be huge for the team next season as well with the departures of Glynn Watson Jr. and James Palmer Jr. in the backcourt. Miles needed somebody who could make a difference right away and he went out and got the fifth-ranked junior college guard in the country according to 247Sports.
Green should push for a starting spot right away. Add Robert Morris transfer Dachon Burke (sitting out this season) to Thomas Allen Jr., the only backcourt starter with eligibility remaining, and that gives the Huskers a unique potential starting backcourt. None of the three are true point guards, but all three can handle the ball and run offense if they’re asked too. Three interchangeable combo-guards could make the Huskers tough to defend.
Add juniors-to-be Nana Akenten and Thorir Thorbjarnarson, sophomore-to-be Amir Harris (another combo-guard capable of running the point), redshirt freshman Karrington Davis coming off of his Achilles injury and Adams-Woods and Nebraska looks to be set in the backcourt and on the wing next season.
Miles still has some work to do in the frontcourt as senior-to-be Isaiah Roby (barring an early entry into the NBA Draft), sophomore-to-be Brady Heiman and Arop (a small and power forward tweeter) are the only ones set to be on the roster next season, but that’s what the late signing period and the transfer market are for.
For the time being, it looks like the future is bright in Lincoln with Jervay Green leading the way.