Fred Hoiberg looked to the junior college ranks to form his backcourt of the present and future, reaffirming the commitment of Jervay Green and recruiting Cam Mack to Nebraska after he decommitted from St. John’s.
Both players were ranked as top-10 junior college recruits, and they happened to play against each other last season. Green starred for Western Nebraska Community College and he faced off against Mack and Salt Lake Community College early in the season (more on that later).
Scottsbluff alumnus Dru Kuxhausen was Green’s running mate at Western Nebraska this season and the duo led the Cougars to a 24-8 record. Kuxhausen played alongside Green for 31 games and has as good a feel as anyone for what the Huskers are getting in Green.
“Jervay is a really upbeat dude,” Kuxhausen told Hail Varsity. “He’s always joking around and stuff. But the thing I really liked about Jervay the most is he’s never a negative dude. He’s always positive and he’s always looking to make his teammates better. Most dudes that are that good they’ve got a little bit of an ego or they don’t try to make their teammates better but he’s different. He tries to make everyone around him better.”
Green led the Cougars at 23.6 points per game but he also averaged 5.3 assists while running the point. Kuxhausen is a sharp-shooter and converted 50.9 percent of his looks from downtown while playing alongside Green.
“It was a lot of fun,” Kuxhausen said. “He takes almost all the attention and then he’s a great passer too. He can find anyone on the court. It was really easy this year for me to just get to my spots and just let him do the rest.”
Western Nebraska averaged 93.1 points this season, shooting 51.1 percent from the field and 40.7 percent from 3. The Cougars’ up-tempo style should make the transition to Hoiberg’s offense pretty easy for Green.
“We kind of played a motion-style offense, fast-paced, we liked to get up and down,” Kuxhausen said. “With a dude like [Green] being able to get out and facilitate to the rest of our team, I think that was a big reason why we were able to have a successful year.”
Growing up 400 miles west of Lincoln, Kuxhausen wouldn’t necessarily consider himself a Husker fan, though he did start to pay more attention to them as he got into high school. He’ll be watching more now.
“I was happy that he went to Nebraska because I think it will be cool to see them try and turn it around and to have someone coming out of Western Nebraska go up there,” Kuxhausen said.
Kuxhausen said he is expecting big things out of Green in Lincoln.
“I see that dude having a huge impact,” Kuxhausen said. “I feel like he’s a good enough player that wherever he’ll go he’ll be able to make a huge impact and help the team. I think as far as him being at Nebraska, I think he really fits that and he can definitely play in the Big Ten. I’m just excited to see what he can do.”
Kuxhausen has also shared the court with Mack, albeit it on slightly less friendly terms than with Green. Salt Lake beat Western Nebraska 108-78 on Nov. 10.
Mack had 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting (3-of-6 from 3), seven assists and four rebounds in that game as Salt Lake raced out to 61-28 lead at halftime and never looked back. Green failed to reach double digits for the first and only time in that game, finishing with a season-low eight points on 3-of-10 shooting with four rebounds and four assists.
“When we played against [Mack], we had watched him the night before — I think he and Jervay both went for 44 or something like that,” Kuxhausen said. “When I saw him play and we played against him, shoot, dude was crazy. He was hitting shots. He seemed like a really confident dude. I was really impressed with his game when we played him and then when I heard he was going to Nebraska, that was pretty cool.”
Green did have 44 the night before against Southern Idaho, shooting 15-of-27 from the field, 7-of-16 from 3 and 7-of-12 from the line with eight rebounds, three assists and two steals. Mack put up 40 on 14-of-27 shooting (6-of-12 from 3) with seven boards, six dimes and five steals against Casper.
Now those two will be joining forces in the Nebraska backcourt.
“I think that’s tough right there,” Kuxhausen said. “You’ve got two of the best junior college guards in the country playing at Nebraska. I think that’ll be really tough to handle.”
As for Kuxhausen, he’s one of the most prolific scorers to ever come out of Western Nebraska. He scored 2,110 career points for the Scottsbluff Bearcats, averaging nearly 29 points his senior season. He spent his first year of college at Division II Chadron State where he was second on the team in scoring as a freshman. However, he struggled to hit shots (29.8 percent from 3) and the Eagles went 3-25.
After the season, Kuxhausen left the program and bet on himself, returning home to Scottsbluff to play a year of junior college ball at Western Nebraska. After averaging 19.1 points and connecting on 119 3s in 31 games, the 6-foot-1 guard earned a Division I scholarship from McNeese State and has signed with Cowboys for next season.
“I’m really excited,” Kuxhausen said. “It’s exciting to put my name back out there after I left Chadron and be able to work for something and achieve the goal I set for myself. I’m really excited to just get up there and get to work.”
As for the Huskers, Hoiberg is still in the process of putting his first roster at Nebraska together but a backcourt of Green and Mack is a great piece to build around.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.