Week one of the high school basketball season is in the books. This season, Nebrasketball fans have more reason than ever to stay up to date with all of the action with two commits and two more targets leading the way for their high school teams.
To help you out, Hail Varsity will be looking back at the performances by 2019 commit Akol Arop (Omaha Creighton Prep), 2020 commit Donovan Williams (Lincoln North Star) and 2021 targets Hunter Sallis (Millard North) and Chucky Hepburn (Bellevue West).
The two commits both got two games in last week while the sophomores both had their second game rescheduled because of the snow.
2019 Forward Akol Arop (Omaha Creighton Prep)
The Junior Jays went 2-0 in week one, beating both Norfolk and Lincoln Southwest by double digits.
On Thursday against the Panthers, Arop put up a double-double with 20 points on 6-of-8 from the field, 2-of-3 from deep and 6-of-7 from the foul line, 10 rebounds, two assists and three turnovers in a 62-46 win. Nebraska assistant coach Jim Molinari stopped by to watch Arop play.
On Saturday afternoon, the Junior Jays took down the Silver Hawks 57-45 in a game where neither team managed to shoot better than 40 percent from the field. Arop did most of his work early as the Junior Jays jumped out to a 14-point lead at halftime and Arop tried to work more on some of his perimeter skills.
Arop knocked down two of his three triples on Thursday, but couldn’t get a jumper to fall against the Silver Hawks. However, he did put an explanation point on the win with a breakaway slam that just beat the fourth-quarter buzzer. Assistant coach Michael Lewis ws in the house for that one.
Creighton Prep will return to the court on Friday with a game at Omaha North, then the Junior Jays will play at Omaha Burke on Saturday.
2020 Guard Donovan Williams (Lincoln North Star)
The Navigators went 1-1 last week, losing at Omaha Westside on Thursday before bouncing back against Lincoln Northeast at home on Saturday.
Against the Warriors, Williams had some highs and lows while finishing with 23 points on 5-of-20 shooting (3-of-12 from 3) and 10-of-13 from the free-throw line, 10 rebounds, three assists and three turnovers in a 58-51 loss.
Hail Varsity was in the building for that game and spoke with the Nebraska pledge after the game.
On Saturday, Williams put up 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting (0-1 from 3) and 4-of-5 from the foul line, five rebounds, four assists, two steals and three turnovers in a 75-46 win against an overmatched Lincoln Northeast team.
North Star got a lot more production out of its supporting cast which allowed Williams to take it a little easier than he did in the first game where he had to try to carry the team with most of the front court in foul trouble all game. Miles and Lewis dropped by to watch Williams play after Molinari watched him on Thursday.
This week, the Navigators will play at Lincoln High on Thursday and will host Omaha South on Saturday.
2021 Point Guard Chucky Hepburn (Bellevue West)
Because of the weather, the Thunderbirds only managed to get one game in this week, but Hepburn made the most of it. Bellevue West traveled to take on a physical, defensive-minded Kearney team and came home with a 44-41 win thanks to Hepburn.
The 6-foot sophomore led the way with 20 points on 6-of-16 from the field and 6-of-8 from the free-throw line with five steals, one assist, one block and three turnovers. He only shot 2-of-7 from beyond the 3-point line, but one of his makes was this:
My man @chucky_hepburn with the game winner! Glad we put this play in this week.
It’s past my bedtime! pic.twitter.com/fEqx5EFVzd
— FauxCoachWoodard (@FauxCoachWoodar) November 30, 2018
Hepburn’s feel for the game is his best asset, and he does a tremendous job of reading the defense and creating just enough separation between the 6-foot-7 defender (Liberty signee Shiloh Robinson) who switched onto him after a screen and the help defender on the wing rotating over.
Bottom of the net. Game over.
Bellevue West’s game on Saturday got snowed out, so they moved it to Monday. The Thunderbirds will host Lincoln High at the Thunderdome at 7:15. On Friday, Bellevue West hosts Omaha Benson. On Saturday, the Thunderbirds will make the trip to Lincoln Southeast if any Husker fans in Lincoln want to get a look at Hepburn.
2021 Wing Hunter Sallis (Millard North)
Millard North also only played one game last week because of the snow as Millard North fell at Lincoln Southwest on Thursday. The Mustangs led after three quarters but the Silver Hawks rallied with a 21-6 fourth quarter to win 56-45 thanks in part to a switch to a 3-2 zone defensively.
Sallis had an up-and-down game as he was very efficient as a scorer, finishing with 18 points on 8-of-11 from the field (1-of-2 from 3) and 1-of-2 from the charity stripe. He also turned the ball over nine times while chipping in two assists, three rebounds and a steal. Miles was in atendance.
Injuries have heavily impacted the Mustangs as their leading returning scorer, forward Bret Porter, tore his ACL in June and back-up senior guard Jake Meade is also out with an injury. Only four players scored against the Silver Hawks and outside of Sallis and junior forward Max Murrell (who had a double-double with 10 points and 11 boards), the team shot 6-of-21 from the field.
Millard North’s second game was pushed back to Tuesday at Norfolk. The Mustangs will also host Elkhorn South on Friday and will travel to Lincoln High on Saturday.
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.