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Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Josiah Allick Happy to Be Home, but Nebraska Commitment was a Basketball Decision

June 13, 2023

Last season, Nebraska was the beneficiary of a Lincoln native choosing to live out a childhood dream.

Sam Griesel could have played for any number of quality programs after entering the transfer portal last spring, but he chose the hometown Huskers, the team he grew up cheering for. Finishing his college career back where his basketball journey began, giving back to the community and wanting to change the narrative around Husker basketball were the driving forces behind his decision.

That wasn’t the case for Josiah Allick, the Lincoln North Star graduate who is following in Griesel’s footsteps by transferring to Nebraska for his final season of eligibility. Allick’s decision was strictly about basketball.

“I tried to keep the coming home part out of it, just because obviously that is really cool and something that’s really exciting, but it’s not really going to change anything in terms of the team or the coach or play style or things like that,” Allick told Jessica Coody for Sports Nightly last week. “And so I tried not to have that kind of smooth out the edges and just focus purely on the basketball side of it. 

“I think I did a pretty good job of that and just really getting to know Hoiberg and Coach Nate [Loenser] and just the system and just looking into the team, who they have coming back, who they had coming in, that kind of stuff.”

Derrick Walker’s development and success within Fred Hoiberg’s system was a major selling point for the 6-foot-8, 235-pound forward who spent three seasons at Kansas City before transferring to New Mexico last season.

“Coach Hoiberg’s track record of utilizing and developing his frontcourt players — obviously he had a lot of success this past year with Derrick and just his improvement over the few years with him,” Allick said. “Even at his time at Iowa State, it was the same thing; he likes to play with versatile bigs that can do a lot on the court. And so that was super intriguing to me just being someone that is a frontcourt player but has worked on their game to try to expand beyond just being low block. So that part’s really appealing.”

Even so, Allick doesn’t see himself as a “drag-and-drop” replacement for Walker, Nebraska’s leader in scoring, rebounding, assisting and blocking averages in 2022-23. Allick wants to bring some of the same versatility to the Nebraska frontcourt, but with his own spin with an emphasis on rebounding, defense and the potential to stretch the floor.

“Obviously he was a hell of a scorer and a playmaker and so I’m hoping that I can kind of fill that aspect of it but also continue to just develop my outside shot as well and kind of bring that dynamic to it,” Allick said. “But also having Rienk Mast from Bradley, having Juwan Gary back, having Blaise Keita, those are all proven players at the Division I level, and so we’re going to have a lot of fluidity among the frontcourt players.”

Walker won’t be suiting up alongside Allick next season, though. The way the roster was shaping up — the production returning and the continuity it granted meshed with the newcomers and their skill sets — played a big part in Allick’s decision. Allick liked what he saw when he watched the Huskers play this past season.

“I watched a lot of Nebraska’s games last year because I’ve known Sam Griesel since I was a sophomore in high school, and so I was just interested in seeing how he was doing,” Allick said. “But in the process, I was kind of almost doing research and I really liked what I saw. Even through the injuries and just the ups and downs of the season, they just they got better, they continued to play the right way. It wasn’t a lot of just any one guy dominating. Obviously Keisei [Tominaga] had a really good February, but even then, it was still very selfless, just team basketball. And you could tell that the defensive scheme was there; it wasn’t just roll the ball out and play. It was very oriented and had a process on both sides of the ball. It seems like something I could really help and it could help me.”

With the business decision out of the way, the feeling of suiting up for the hometown team s a real thing, even if he doesn’t have the same family ties to the program as Griesel did.

“It’s awesome,” Allick said. “I wasn’t born and raised here in Lincoln, but I moved here in fifth grade. Obviously Nebraska’s impact on the community, it’s massive. Everywhere you go, every classroom, there’s some piece of Nebraska around. Obviously being a basketball player, you always dream about getting to represent your state and represent your hometown, and so being able to do that, it is kind of surreal still, but hopefully that’ll wear off and I can focus on just basketball.”

After four years away, Allick said it feels like he’s picking up where he left off back in Lincoln. The biggest adjustment is having his own place rather than being at home with his parents all of the time.

Allick said it’s not common to have a team full of guys who all get along with each other, but through the first couple weeks on campus, that’s what he’s found at Nebraska.

“It was a very welcoming feeling, like I haven’t really felt like I’m the new kid in class and everybody else has their group of friends and I’m trying to fit in somewhere,” Allick said. “Everyone’s just kind of welcomed us in and we’ve just kind of molded together and we’re only a week into it. And so obviously just as the summer progresses, we go on our trip to Spain, just practicing and training more together getting through the dog days of the preseason and whatnot, I see us being in a really good place to where we’ll all be able to just rely and trust each other through the ups and downs of the season to hopefully build something great.”

Allick didn’t commit to Nebraska for all of the same reasons Griesel did, but the former North Star Navigator is hoping to have a similar impact to him in his one season as a Husker. 

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