Husker head coach Fred Hoiberg is reuniting with a former assistant on the bench in Lincoln.
The program announced Tuesday the hiring of Nate Loenser as an assistant coach on Hoiberg’s staff. Loenser worked previously with Hoiberg at both Iowa State (2013-15) and during Hoiberg’s tenure with the Chicago Bulls (2015-18).
“(I) believe that he is the best player development guy I have worked with,” Hoiberg said in a release. “He was a valuable member of our staff that won a pair of Big 12 Tournament titles in Ames. In Chicago, he did a remarkable job with our G League team in its first season, as we had more than a dozen players recalled or sign with other NBA teams. He has earned the respect of players around the league because of his ability to relate with players, and to help them reach their goals. We are pleased to welcome Nate and his family to Lincoln.”
Loenser joins the staff as an assistant coach, which means he’s not a direct replacement for Bobby Lutz, who recently left the Huskers after spending the first two years of Hoiberg’s Lincoln tenure as the special assistant to the head coach. Doc Sadler, who has mostly handled the Husker defense as an assistant these past two seasons, will move into Lutz’s old role as the new special assistant to the head coach.
Loenser spent five seasons with the Bulls, including three seasons as an assistant coach for Hoiberg and the man who replaced Hoiberg, Jim Boylen. His coaching emphasis was on the offensive end. He also handled opponent scouting for select teams and worked extensively in player development. He helped develop 2021 NBA All-Star guard Zach LaVine as well as guards/wings Kris Dunn, Ryan Arcidiacono, Justin Holiday, Chandler Hutchison, David Nwaba, Denzel Valentine and Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot during his tenure with the Bulls. LaVine is currently seventh in the NBA in scoring at 27.4 points per game, enjoying the best all-around year of his career.
“Nate was my guy. He’s a great, sincere guy who helped me a lot with my game—both on the court and off,” LaVine said. “He’s very into his job and takes it extremely serious, and will do anything for the program, and for the players. I’m very happy for him. You guys are getting a good one.”
Loenser also served as the Bulls’ NBA Summer League coach in 2019, a roster which featured NBA Lottery pick Coby White and ran the Bulls’ predraft workouts for three seasons. Prior to joining the bench for Hoiberg’s Bulls staff, he was the head coach of the Windy City Bulls, Chicago’s G-League affiliate. Two guys he coached in the G-League—Spencer Dinwiddie and Bobby Portis—have gone on to earn featured roles for the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks.
“Coach Loenser was a vital presence in my life during my time in Chicago,” said Dunn, the fifth pick in the 2016 NBA Draft and a current member of the Atlanta Hawks. “He helped me in so many ways, on and off the court. He instilled my confidence on the floor. He was someone I could talk to about things going on in my life. Just a great man. Well-respected by the players and everyone in the organization. Everyone had love for him because he’s so high-energy and brought a great spirit to the team.”
Said Arcidiacono, a guard for the Bulls who has played in 30 games this season: “Nate is one of the main reasons why I’m in the NBA. The development in my game really started with him from my first year as a two-way player continuing on to my next couple years with the Chicago Bulls. He really helped me think and play like an NBA player, a rotational player. I’m super happy for him, And Nebraska, they have a great coach who’s really going to develop players both on and off of the court. I’m going to be watching and cheering on the Huskers.” Arcidiacono went undrafted in the 2016 NBA Draft, but was signed to a two-way deal by the Bulls in 2017. He re-signed with the Bulls for the following season, and then ahead of the 2019 campaign earned a three-year contract from Chicago.
At Iowa State, Loenser was notably the Cyclones’ Director of Player Development for the 2014-15 season, a year that saw Iowa State go 25-9 and tie for second in the Big 12. That season, Georges Niang earned All-America honors, while Niang, Monté Morris and Jameel McKay were recognized on the All-Big 12 teams. McKay was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.