With the basketball schedule finally complete and following in the wake of our updated projected football depth chart, we at Hail Varsity decided to take a crack at projecting the opening day depth chart for the men’s basketball team as well.
With a roster featuring six returners and six newcomers, there are a lot of different directions one could go with for this team. However, this is my best guess for what we’ll see on Nov. 11.
PG: Glynn Watson (13 ppg, 3 rpg, 2.6 apg), Thomas Allen (N/A)
SG: Evan Taylor (5.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.2 apg), James Palmer Jr. (3.6 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 0.7 apg in two years at Miami), Anton Gill (3.8 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 0.5 apg)
SF: Isaiah Roby (3.1 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 0.7 apg), Nana Akenten (N/A), Thorir Thorbjarnarson (N/A)
PF: Jack McVeigh (7.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 0.6 apg), [Isaac Copeland (8.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.3 apg in 73 games at Georgetown)]
C: Jordy Tshimanga (5 ppg, 4 rpg, 0.3 apg), Duby Okeke (4.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 0.1 apg in three years at Winthrop)
For the purposes of this depth chart, I’m going to assume that Isaac Copeland will not be eligible until after the first semester ends or until the resolution of his waiver request for immediate eligibility.
Glynn Watson and Jordy Tshimanga are easy calls for the starting lineup. Watson is the team’s best player and Tshimanga had a strong stretch run to close out his freshman season.
Based on Tim Miles’ track record, he tends to favor his most experienced players early in the season as far as who starts. That is why I have senior guard Evan Taylor and junior forward Jack McVeigh in my first five. I doubt we’ll see those two in the starting five all season, but they’re a safe bet to be there on opening night.
That leaves Isaiah Roby as the fifth starter. With Copeland currently ineligible and Tshimanga and Winthrop transfer Duby Okeke both looking like pure centers based on their skill sets, McVeigh and Roby are the only real options to play power forward. Even so, the Huskers want Roby to play on the wing this year and he has been working hard on his ball-handling and shooting to allow him to play more at that spot than he did as a freshman.
If Miles is worried about Roby and McVeigh getting into foul trouble, he could split their minutes mostly at the four as well, opening up a spot in the starting lineup for James Palmer Jr., a 6-foot-6 transfer from Miami. Palmer has at least been with the program for a full year and could bring some added playmaking to the lineup.
Anton Gill is still working his way back from a devastating injury that ended his junior season after 12 games, and I’m taking anything they get from him as a bonus at this point. How much the freshmen will be able to contribute is still up in the air as well, though I’d imagine Thomas Allen will get the first crack at running the point when Watson sits while also getting a few minutes alongside him here and there.
Ultimately, I think Nebraska’s best lineup will feature Watson, Palmer, Roby, Copeland and Tshimanga, and I’d be quite surprised if we don’t see that lineup at some point during Big Ten play.
But when we get started in November, expect Miles to fall back on experience to ease this new-look team into the 2017-18 season.