nebraska basketball player holding ball during practice
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nebraska Basketball Film Study: Quaran McPherson

July 08, 2021

Fred Hoiberg signed the highest-rated recruiting class in program history heading into his third season in Lincoln. It started with Keisei Tominaga’s commitment on Thanksgiving of 2019 and concluded with Quaran McPherson pulling the trigger on May 3, 2021.

McPherson, a 6-foot-4, 180-pound guard from Queens, New York, hopped in the class late after spending a post-grad year at Link Year Prep in Branson, Missouri. To get a better feel for what McPherson is going to bring to Nebrasketball, I watched a pair of his games from this past season on YouTube.

The first game was a 93-80 win over North Arkansas College, a junior college, on March 9. McPherson came off the bench to play 20 minutes, finishing with 12 points on 3-of-9 shooting (0-of-2 from 3) and 6-of-7 from the free-throw line, five rebounds, five assists, two steals and one turnover by my count. McPherson wasn’t as efficient scoring the ball as you’d like to see, but he did show some things to get excited about.

Late in the first half, McPherson caught the ball in the outlet box after a stop and looked to push the ball up the right sideline.

McPherson had a teammate running with him, creating a two-on-one for the Lions. McPherson continued to attack the rim.

The defender tried to set up for a charge, but McPherson elevated and contorted his body to avoid the head-on contact and attack the outside shoulder of the defender. He extended and finished, drawing a foul in the process.

McPherson made his third trip to the free-throw line of the first half and nailed the free throw.

North Arkansas spent most of the game in a zone, and while McPherson did a good job of moving the ball and finding the gaps, it limited his opportunities to create for others off the bounce. He did find one such opportunity in semi-transition, however, as the Pioneers looked to set a trap.

McPherson’s teammate through a risky skip pass but McPherson went up and got it with the defender in a trail position. McPherson looked to attack as soon as he hit the ground, sensing the advantage.

McPherson went at the North Arkansas big man rotating over while Link year’s big fond himself unaccounted for and cut along the baseline.

McPherson hit the big with a Euro-step and almost lost his balance, but he managed to get the pass off to his cutting big man…

Who caught the ball and finished the bunny.

McPherson displayed gan ability to read the floor and make the right play as a passer, which is great to see in a point guard prospect.

He went 0-for-4 on jumpers (two catch-and-shoot 3s, one fading 10-footer off an offensive rebound and one foot-on-the-line pull-up long 2) and 3-for-5 around the basket in this game. He had some lapses defensively off the ball but also had some good possessions where he made plays including breaking up a couple of post entry passes.

The second game was the next one on the schedule for Link Year, a 72-67 win against Scotland Campus Red. McPherson played 15 minutes and recorded 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting (1-of-3 from 3) and 2-of-4 free-throw shooting, three rebounds, three assists, two steals and two turnovers.

The first play here includes, well, a lot. It starts with McPherson reading the offense and shooting the passing lane for a steal.

McPherson timed it perfectly, picking off the pass and pushing it up the court. The player that committed the turnover hustled to get back on defense and cut McPherson off.

It’s one-on-one at this point, but instead of hitting the defender with some kind of dribble move he just put his head down and kept going.

The defender used verticality to contest the shot as McPherson initiated contact, and McPherson left it short.

However, the rebound bounced around until a Lion secured it and dribbled out. McPherson looked to pop out to the corner with his defender’s head turned.

The rebounder turned and passed it back to McPherson in the left corner and he elevated for the shot and knocked it down.

The 3-pointer was McPherson’s only bucket of the first half. In the second half, however, he had more success attacking the basket.

Midway through the first half, Link Year got the ball to McPherson at the volleyball line with his defender pressuring him. McPherson faced up then put the ball on the deck, slightly hesitating then exploding forward to get past his man.

McPherson’s move got him past his defender, but the help side was waiting at the rim. McPherson continued to attack anyway.

The help defender left his feet to challenge McPherson, who had also taken off looking to score the ball.

However, McPherson went up, took the glancing contact, pulled the ball down then reversed it for a scoop on the other side plus the foul.

He hit the ground hard but hopped back up after a couple of seconds. He missed the free throw, but the play did show McPherson’s athleticism and body control.

The last play I’ll show here is the one that essentially sealed the game for the Lions as Scotland Campus had made a late push to get back into it. The Lions were in stall mode, chewing up as much clock as they could before looking to get a shot up. Holding onto a three-point lead with 45 seconds left, Link Year got the ball to McPherson at the volleyball line once again.

McPherson faced up his defender, put the ball on the deck, crossed over then exploded forward.

McPherson immediately got the defender on his hip then continued forward towards the rim where the help defender was waiting. His teammate made the smart play, however, and cut across the baseline as McPherson drew his defender’s attention.

McPherson left his feet and dropped the ball off to his teammate under the basket.

His teammate did the rest, elevating for the slam to put Link Year up five with less than 40 seconds to play.

According to his bio on Huskers.com, McPherson averaged 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists this past season at Link Year Prep. He’s a strong, physical guard who can make plays for himself and others off the bounce. He’s probably better around the basket than he is from the perimeter at this point, but Hoiberg is confident in his ability to improve jump shooting.

McPherson does not appear comfortable finishing with his left hand as there were a few different instances where he made the play more difficult for himself because he was determined to shoot with his right hand no matter what. His attention to detail on defense needs some work, but that’s true of most players coming out of high school and he certainly competes on the glass.

With Dalano Banton’s departure, the opportunity could be there for another ball-handler to emerge in the backcourt to back-up Trey McGowens and play alongside combo-guards like Kobe Webster and Bryce McGowens. I’m not sure if McPherson will be ready to be that guy as a true freshman, but I saw enough in his game film to be intrigued by his potential as he polishes up his skills under Hoiberg’s watchful eye.

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