Dayton transfer Mike Sharavjamts committed to San Francisco over other finalists Nebraska and Memphis on Friday, leaving the Huskers still sitting with two open scholarships.
The team is already on campus going through workouts. While the coaches will continue to do their due diligence with the players remaining in the portal and those that enter late, with each passing day it seems more likely the Huskers stand pat with their 11 scholarship players and four walk-ons.
Earlier this month after Keisei Tominaga announced his return, Hoiberg said he feels good about where the rester stands. That starts with the group of returners with more than 50% of the team’s scoring set to suit up again next season.
“I feel very good about our roster with getting the guys back that had a big impact, especially once we had the injuries. That experience that our guys gained in that area in roles that maybe increased as the season went on with Jamarques [Lawrence], with Sam [Hoiberg]. C.J. [Wilcher], I thought, finished the season playing his best basketball.”
Juwan Gary is part of that returning core as well, and he’s continuing to progress toward full health after his season-ending shoulder injury and subsequent surgery. He still has a few weeks until he’s cleared for full contact, but he’s doing everything else on the court. Blaise Keita is a couple weeks out as well.
As big as Tominaga’s return is, however, what kind of season Nebraska has in 2023-24 will largely be driven by the newcomers who are stepping into some big shoes left by the departing starters.
“You look at adding the types of players that we did, getting experience at our point guard position with [Ahron] Ulis,” Hoiberg said. “Brice Williams, to me, was a huge pickup for us because of versatility. He finished off last season playing incredibly well and won one of the postseason tournaments where he was the MVP, a guy that shot over 40% last year at over 6-7 … And then the other additions with Rienk [Mast], with Josiah [Allick]. Those were huge for us because of how we play and I think the skill level and the unique skill set that those guys bring to the table as well. So I really think this is a group that has versatility.”
Ulis won’t have too much of an adjustment to make going from one Big Ten team in Iowa to another, but the other three transfer are coming from lower levels. Williams played in Conference USA at Charlotte, Mast played in the Missouri Valley a Bradley and Allick played in the Mountain West at New Mexico (after three years in the WAC and Summit League at Kansas City). Production translation from those levels isn’t a given, but Hoiberg is confident in the players they added for multiple reasons.
“Can they match up physically I think is what you look at first and foremost, and you’ve got guys that have size,” Hoiberg said. “And then you look at what they did and their production against the Power Five when they did have matchups against those those schools. Then it’s just all about how they fit into your system. We feel that everybody that we’ve added to our roster does fit with how we play, and that, to me, is more important than maybe the level where they were at because all those guys put up great numbers and had very good production where they were, and we think that that will translate because they’ve got the size, they’ve got the strength and they fit with with how we want to play.”
Nebraska lists Williams, a wing capable of playing multiple positions, at 6-foot-7 and 215 pounds. Mast is 6-foot-10 and 240 pounds — a little undersized against the likes of Zach Edey, but strong enough to hold his own against most of the bigs he’ll see in the Big Ten. Allick, who is capable of playing either frontcourt spot depending on the matchup, is 6-foot-8 and 235 pounds. Even Ulis is 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds at the point guard spot.
All the transfers have played at least three season of college basketball, but Nebraska also has some freshmen joining the mix in 2023 signee Eli Rice and redshirt freshman Ramel Lloyd Jr.
“Eli Rice has come in and he’s measured almost 6-8, and a kid that I think has a very bright future,” Hoiberg said. “Freshmen obviously have a big learning curve, but the fact that we have these two months leading into the Spain trip and then get some valuable experience over there. Ramel coming off his redshirt season, he’s made big gains in the weight room over the summer.”
Nebraska had some big holes in the lineup to fill, and Hoiberg did that with multi-position players who fit his system. While the roster may not be completely full, the Huskers seem to be in a good spot heading into a busy summer for the Huskers who will be departing for Spain in late July.
“Everything’s coming together and again, I think we’ve got different lineups that we could put out on the floor,” Hoiberg said. “We can play small, we can play big and it’s been a good offseason for us.”