Fred Hoiberg has been busy since he arrived in Lincoln late in March.
By the time Nebraska’s new head coach and his staff finished processing what was left of the roster, there were only three players left—one of which barely played until late in the season, one who didn’t play at all while redshirting and one who probably isn’t coming back.
That left a lot of roster spots to fill, and the staff got to work right away. Hoiberg’s first order of business was to evaluate Tim Miles’ 2019 recruiting class and decide which commits fit into what he wanted to do in Lincoln. Hoiberg met with Omaha Creighton Prep forward Akol Arop and by the time he left, Arop had already reaffirmed his commitment.
Hoiberg got highly-touted junior college guard Jervay Green to stick with his commitment too, although that took another official visit to Nebraska after his first meeting from Hoiberg.
The first big group visit was the same weekend as the football spring game. Green visited along with former Oklahoma State forward Maurice Calloo and UNLV forwards Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua and Joel Ntambwe. Green is the only player from that group that committed to Nebraska (Tchatchoua chose Baylor and things have been pretty quiet regarding Calloo and Ntambwe). But the staff was just getting started.
The following weekend, Hoiberg brought in three visitors: Seattle graduate transfer Matej Kavas, Florida Gulf Coast graduate transfer Haanif Cheatham and 2020 commit D’Andre Davis. Cheatham saw enough to commit midway through the visit. Davis reaffirmed his commitment as well. Kavas committed the following Friday.
They ramped it up even more the last weekend of April, bringing in five visitors—one junior college transfer (Cam Mack), one sit-out transfer (Western Kentucky guard Dalano Banton), one graduate transfer (Utah center Jayce Johnson), one 2019 high school recruit (Kevin Cross out of Arkansas) and one 2019 international recruit (Frenchman Yvan Ouedraogo).
Mack committed during his visit. Banton committed a couple of days after the visit. Johnson went on to visit Marquette and chose the Golden Eagles over the Huskers. In the last two days, both Cross and Ouedraogo have committed.
Nebraska’s most recent visitor was Shamiel Stevenson. The former Pitt Panther who transferred to Nevada midseason to play for Eric Musselman decided to leave Reno after Musselman took the Arkansas job. Nebraska was the first school he visited, and he committed to the Huskers before leaving Lincoln.
The spring signing period closes on May 15, and with just one scholarship remaining (two if Isaiah Roby stays in the NBA Draft as most expect), Nebraska probably isn’t going to look to sign any more high school recruits. Keep an eye on the transfer market as Hoiberg closes out his first recruiting class at Nebraska, but the work his staff has done in the meantime is pretty impressive.
Nebraska’s name was thrown out in regards to a lot of transfers and a handful of high school recruits this cycle, but by my count they honed in on a group of 12 that took visits to Lincoln. Of those 12, nine have committed to Nebraska. Seventy-five percent is a heck of a hit rate in recruiting.
Hoiberg and his staff have shown themselves to be tremendous closers. They’ve done a good job of identifying attainable targets, getting them on campus and then convincing them Nebraska is the place for them for however many seasons of eligibility they have remaining. Three of those players saw enough during their visit to commit on the spot.
How good are these players? We won’t know until they take the floor come the fall, but some of them were fairly highly-regarded and Nebraska had to beat out some good programs for pretty much all of them.
Certainly, a big part of Hoiberg’s success this cycle has been the ability to sell immediate playing time and significant roles. Somebody has to play and Nebraska was pretty short on bodies throughout much of the process, especially when they pushed out a few of Miles’ players. It won’t be quite the same moving forward, but the hit rate is significant nonetheless. This staff clearly has the ability to identify what players of all backgrounds are looking for and then show them that Nebraska can offer those things.
Hoiberg was known for his transfer recruiting at Iowa State, but his high school recruiting improved steadily throughout his time in Ames. So far at Nebraska, Hoiberg’s shown the ability to recruit every kind of player imaginable. That’s a skill that will be incredibly valuable as Hoiberg continues to build up his program at Nebraska.
Jacob Padilla has been writing for Hail Varsity since 2015. He covers football, volleyball men’s basketball and prep sports. He also co-hosts the Nebraska Preps Postgame and Nebraska Shootaround podcasts for the Hurrdat Media and Hail Varsity podcast networks. 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.