Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

2021-22 Nebraska Basketball Season Review: Forwards

April 19, 2022

The spring evaluation period is here while the May 1 deadline for entering the portal and gaining immediate eligibility elsewhere is drawing near. While the coaches work on building the roster for the short- and long-term, Hail Varsity is looking back at this past season to evaluate what kind of building blocks Fred Hoiberg has and where the Huskers need to improve.

We’ve already covered the perimeter with the lead guards and wings. This week we turn to the frontcourt, starting with the forwards.

Senior Lat Mayen

2021-22 stats: 5.9 PPG, 38.7% FG (29.9% 3FG), 73.5% FT, 3.8 RPG, 0.7 APG, 1.0 TPG, 0.4 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 23.6 MPG

Lat Mayen started every game he played in as a Husker (and he missed just one game in his two seasons in Lincoln), but unfortunately after a solid first season he took a step back this year.

The former JUCO standout filled the stretch-four role in Hoiberg’s offense (after starting out as a small-ball five with Derrick Walker suspended). He led the Huskers with 48 3-pointers in 2021-22, connecting at a respectable yet unspectacular 34.8% rate.

Mayen’s best performance came on senior night at Pinnacle Bank Arena as he went off in the first half and finished with 25 points on 9-of-11 shooting (5-of-7 from 3) and 2-of-2 from the foul line in a win against Rutgers. He cracked double digits in 10 of his 27 games.

A step forward for Mayen in year two could have provided a boost for Nebraska’s offense, but instead he took a step back. After an offseason featuring back problems that sidelined him for a time, Mayen failed to find his touch from the perimeter, let alone improve on his percentage.

Mayen made less than one 3 per game, shooting just under 30% from deep. He scored in double figures just twice in his 31 games, and as his 3-point shooting fell off his impact in other areas remained pretty stagnant.

Mayen scored a season-high 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting (2-of-5 from 3) in Nebraska’s win at Penn State.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayen technically has another season of eligibility if he wants to use it. He has yet to announce his decision, but I would not expect to see him back in Lincoln next season. The Adelaide, Australia, native could opt to return home to begin a professional playing career instead of spending a fifth year in college.

Freshman Wilhelm Breidenbach

2021-22 stats: 3.7 PPG, 35.9% FG (15.0% 3FG), 50.0% FT, 2.7 RPG, 0.6 APG, 0.7 TPG, 1.0 SPG, 0.6 BPG, 15.7 MPG

Breidenbach, a 4-star recruit and key piece of the team’s highly-regarded 2021 recruiting class earned a spot in the rotation as Derrick Walker’s primary back-up at the five from day one, but as the season played out he slid more into the power forward role playing behind Mayen. However, his freshman season lasted just 10 games in as he suffered a season-ending knee injury against Michigan on Dec. 7.

Hoiberg liked Breidenbach’s skill level and IQ and saw the versatile big man from California as a great fit for his system, and Breidenbach put on some good weight between the time he arrived in Lincoln and the start of the season. Even so, he had a tough time making the transition to Division I basketball.

One thing Hoiberg spoke highly of was Breidenbach’s perimeter jumper, but he hit just three of his 20 attempts from 3 (while converting 11 of his 19 attempts inside the arc). Hoiberg gave him a chance to play through his struggles, though, as the 6-foot-10 freshman logged double-digit minutes in every game. He also led the team in fouls per minute, logging nearly as many fouls (33) as points scored (37).

Breidenbach’s best performance came against Idaho State as he finished with nine points on 3-of-6 from the field (2-of-5 from 3) and 1-of-2 from the line, three rebounds and two assists. He set season highs with five rebounds and five steals against South Dakota, chipping in three points on 3-of-5 from the free-throw stripe.

Breidenbach showed some intriguing flashes, but the injury ended his season before he managed to settle in and find his game at the D-I level. 

Hoiberg recently provided an update on Breidenbach’s recovery.

“Wilhelm’s doing great,” Hoiberg said on April 5. “He’s right on track with where he needs to be right now. He’s put on 15 pounds. Really, all he’s been able to do is get in the weight room, which has been very beneficial for him. We’re doing a lot of spot shooting with him right now and you can see even compared to when he came in just how much more balanced he is as far as the strength in both legs. So he’s a guy that’s very diligent in his rehab, and he’s going to continue to stay on track and hopefully we’ll get him back here in the next couple months.”

We know Nebraska is targeting a scoring wing in the portal with Illinois State bucket-getter Antonio Reeves visiting the weekend of the football spring game, but if the Huskers end up with another scholarship (depending on what happens with Trey McGowens and Lat Mayen) a stretch-four could be the next target. Until the Huskers add someone at that spot, though, Breidenbach is the most natural fit for that spot and could play a big role in 2022-23 if he returns to full health and polishes up his jumper.

Freshman Keon Edwards

2021-22 stats: 0.5 PPG, 19.0% FG (6.7% 3FG), 50.0% FT, 0.7 RPG, 0.1 APG, 0.3 TPG, 0.1 SPG, 5.6 MPG

The 6-foot-7 Edwards was a highly-touted 2021 recruit before enrolling early at DePaul for the 2020-21 season. He played just five games with the Blue Demons before transferring to Nebraska.

Hoiberg and other players spoke highly of Edwards’ shooting ability, but it didn’t translate to the games in his brief playing time and he never managed to carve out a consistent role.

Edwards logged 11 minutes in his first three games, but when Trey McGowens went down with a broken foot in game three against Creighton, Hoiberg turned to Edwards to replace the defensive-minded guard in the starting lineup at the three. Edwards played 15, 11, nine, 12 and four minutes in his five starts but produced just four points on 2-of-11 shooting and five rebounds in that time and Hoiberg went another direction at that point.

Edwards logged double-digit minutes just one more time the rest of the season and played in 19 total games. Most of his minutes came either in garbage time or in short stints when Hoiberg was looking for more size in the frontcourt, mostly because of foul trouble to Mayen, Derrick Walker or Eduardo Andre (or all three). 

Edwards recorded 14 points, 10 points, two steals, two assists, five turnovers and 12 fouls while shooting 4-of-21 from the field in his 107 minutes as a Husker. He missed his first 13 attempts from 3 before finally hitting one against Northwestern on Feb. 5.

Edwards put his name in the transfer portal on March 24 and is still looking for a new home.

Senior Trevor Lakes

2021-22 stats: 1.5 PPG, 28.6% FG (23.1% 3FG), 50.0% FT, 0.9 RPG, 0.3 APG, 0.1 PG, 0.3 SPG, 0.1 BPG, 8.9 MPG

The sharpshooter from Indiana wanted to test himself at the Division I level after three standout seasons at Division II Indianapolis, but he never managed to find his niche at Nebraska as he played in just 22 total games in two seasons while playing 206 minutes.

After initially planning to redshirt as a transfer last season, Nebraska got a waiver for him to play midseason, turning 2021-22 into his extra season of eligibility. He played just eight games before shutting it down for the season to deal with a recurring shoulder injury that impacted him throughout his time in Lincoln and led to offseason surgery last summer.

Lakes scored eight points on 3-of-5 shooting (2-of-4 from 3) in 15 minutes against Kennesaw State on Dec. 22, but he shot 1-of-9 from 3 and scored four total points in his other seven games (and 56 minutes).

Lakes appealed to the NCAA for another season of eligibility and entered the transfer portal, announcing on March 27 that he was returning to the Division II level in his home state to play at Southern Indiana.

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