Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Bryce McGowens Named AP’s Big Ten Newcomer of the Year

March 08, 2022

Bryce McGowens received a handful of conference  honors on Tuesday.

McGowens was named Big Ten Newcomer of the Year by the AP in a close vote over Ohio State’s Malaki Branham, while he was also named third-team All-Big Ten by both the coaches and media and named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team.

“It’s incredible to see where Bryce is now compared to where he was a couple months ago when it was so, I think, overwhelming for him, a lot of it because of the physicality,” Coach Fred Hoiberg said on Tuesday. “I’m telling you from experience, when you make that jump from high school to major college basketball, there’s a huge learning curve that comes with that, and just how he’s bought in to everything that he needed to do to get himself to this point and be recognized as one of the top 15 players in the league. That’s an unbelievable accomplishment.”

Despite McGowens’ 26-point performance against the Buckeyes, Branham was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year after making a strong push in league play.

The honors come one day after McGowens earned his eighth Big Ten Freshman of the Week honor, the second-most ever behind only Jared Sullinger’s 12 in 2010-11.

The 6-foot-7 wing is the nation’s leading scorer among true freshman this season, averaging 17.2 points on 40.8% shooting (28% from 3) and 83.8% from the free-throw line to go with 5.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.

McGowens, the first 5-star recruit to sign with the Huskers out of high school, scored in double figures in 25 of his 30 games this season. He scored 20 or more nine times with a high of 29 set twice (against Sam Houston State in his second collegiate game and against Rutgers at home). He totaled 51 points on 57.1% shooting and corralled 10 rebounds in Nebraska’s back-to-back road wins at Penn State and at Ohio State before missing his first game of the season at Wisconsin because of a wrist injury. Hoiberg said he’s continued to see McGowens get stronger throughout the season.

“You just see what he has continued to do, and he’s gotten in the weight room, which, as I’ve talked about a lot this year, not many 18-year-olds buy into that, and he just has continued to get better,” Hoiberg said. “He’s gained weight over the course of the season, which is, again, that’s hard to do with all the wear and tear and all the commitments that these kids have. So everything that he needed to do to get himself to this point, he has done and I gave him all the credit in the world.”

McGowens recorded two double-doubles including a season-high 11 rebounds against Southern and has dished out a season-high four assists in a game five different times. He has five games with double-digit free-throw attempts including a season-high 18 against Rutgers.

The Pendleton, South Carolina, native led the Big Ten in free throws made and was second in free-throw percentage. He’s also eighth in scoring average.

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