Nebraska Basketball Guard Thorir Thorbjarnarson Shoots Against Minnesota
Photo Credit: John Peterson

Nebraska Basketball Player Reviews: Wings

March 25, 2021

Year two has come a close for Fred Hoiberg with Nebrasketball. We’ve had a couple of weeks to digest everything that happened this season, and now it’s time to look back and reflect on the season.

Hail Varsity is breaking the roster down into sections and breaking down the team player by player. We covered the backcourt on Tuesday. Up next is a look at the wings.

Teddy Allen

2020-21 Stats: 16.5 PPG, 44.9% FG (37.6% 3FG), 69.1% FT, 4.7 RPG, 1.7 APG, 2.5 TPG, 1.3 SPG, 27.2 MPG

I wrote plenty of thoughts on the Teddy Allen situation after he left the team, so you can read those here.

I’ll be brief here. All things considered, Allen had a pretty terrific offensive season. He was Nebraska’s best self-creator (despite the lack of floor spacing around him) as well as one of the team’s best 3-point shooters. The tunnel vision hurt him at times and led to too many turnovers and some bad shots, but he also put the team on his back at different times, most notably the 41-point explosion against Penn State that was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen in person.

The conference media named him an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention at the end of the season even though he was no longer with the program. He was the only Husker to receive any kind of postseason recognition. 

Ultimately, though both sides tried, they just weren’t able to make it work for a full season. Allen entered the transfer portal this week as a grad transfer, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him land a professional contract somewhere instead of finding another college to play for.

Thorir Thorbjarnarson

2020-21 Stats: 3.9 PPG, 34.2% FG (29.4% 3FG), 76.9% FT, 3.1 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.0 TPG, 0.9 SPG, 22.1 MPG

I think Hoiberg always appreciated the way Thorbjarnarson played the game, and the way he cut hard and moved the ball quickly is exactly what Hoiberg wants to see in his system. Thorbjarnarson emerged as an important piece and Nebraska’s best 3-point shooter last season.

Nebraska guard Thorir Thorbjarnarson (34) holds his jersey up for the fans during Senior Day Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021, in Lincoln, Neb. Photo by John S. Peterson.

However, the late-season slump he fell into as a junior extended into this season and there was a lid on the room for him for most of the year.

Thorbjarnarson started the first seven games but shot just 30.6% from the field including 23.8% from 3 while averaging 4.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 25.6 minutes per game.

Hoiberg moved Thorbjarnarson to the bench once Big Ten play began, though it didn’t help his performance. He shot 31.3% from the field and 18.8% from 3 while averaging 2.2 points, 1.8 rebounds and 0.7 assists in in 16 minutes per game over his next 12 games.

Thorbjarnarson finally strung a couple of good games together late in the season, then Hoiberg moved him back into the starting lineup for señor day and kept him there the rest of the season. Over his last eight games, he looked. A lot more like the guy that we saw last season, averaging 6.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 28.4 minutes per game while shooting 39.5% from the field including 38.7% from 3.

Thorbjarnarson only cracked double figures scoring twice, both in the last eight games. He scored a season-high 12 points against Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament.

Thorbjarnarson hasn’t announced his plans for next season, but I have a hard time seeing him return for a fifth year of school. He has his degree and should have professional playing opportunities back home or elsewhere.

Shamiel Stevenson

2020-21 Stats: 5.5 PPG, 43.7% FG (18.8% 3FG), 72.3% FT, 2.4 RPG, 0.6 APG, 1.5 TPG, 0.6 SPG, 14.3 MPG

I don’t think this season was anything like what Shamiel Stevenson and Fred Hoiberg had imagined when the Canadian wing committed to Nebraska. Stevenson didn’t start a single game and was ninth on the team in minutes after redshirting last season.

Stevenson’s role fluctuated throughout the season. He logged 12-plus minutes in Nebraska’s first six games then played five or fewer minutes in three of the next four. He played double-digit minutes for five straight games, then only reached that mark in six of Nebraska’s next 10 before not playing at all in the Big Ten Tournament against Penn State.

Nebraska forward Shamiel Stevenson (4) makes a dunk against the Indiana Hoosiers in the first half Sunday, Jan. 10th, at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska. Photo by John S. Peterson.

Stevenson provided some versatility throughout the season, stepping up defensively against South Dakota star Stanley Umude on the wing and filling in as a small-ball five at times with his strength and athleticism to provide a better finishing option around the rim than what Nebraska had before Derrick Walker became eligible. He produced some highlight-reel dunks and finishes, especially in transition.

However, two big problems held him back from earning a steady role: his perimeter jumper and his turnovers.

Stevenson didn’t take a ton of 3s at Pittsburgh — just 40 attempts in 36 games — but he made them at a pretty good clip (39%). This season, he shot just 6-of-32 from 3 including 1-of-17 in Nebraska’s first 15 games. He just couldn’t get shots to fall most of the season and it tanked his overall efficiency as he shot 60% at the rim but under 44% from the field.

Stevenson also displayed extreme tunnel vision, and on a team that had almost nonexistent floor spacing it led to a lot of turnovers. He tried to barrel his way to the rim and it often ended in charges or defenders knocking the ball loose. His turnover rate of 23% was identical to what he did as a freshman at Pitt, though his assist percentage was a couple points higher with the Panthers. His body language on the bench and court wasn’t always the best either.

Stevenson’s future is pretty murky. He still has enough talent to help the team, but he has to clean up some of those areas that kept him off the floor this season if he wants a more consistent role next year.

Trevor Lakes

2020-21 Stats: 3.2 PPG, 37.5% FG (33.3% 3FG), 75.0% FT, 1.1 RPG, 0.4 APG, 0.1 TPG, 0.1 SPG, 9.6 MPG, 14 games

The Division II transfer entered this season planning to redshirt, but once the NCAA granted transfers immediate eligibility the plan changed. The NCAA’s blanket waiver didn’t include transfers from lower levels, but the Huskers applied for an individual weaver to get him eligible so he could get a tase of Big Ten basketball this season.

Nebraska Cornhuskers forward Trevor Lakes (14) drives to the basket against Doane Tigers guard Nick Saiz (23) in the second half at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska. Photo by John S. Peterson.

The added bonus of Lakes playing this season is that it made him a senior this season, which means he does not count towards Nebraska’s scholarship limit for next season as a returning senior (just like Kobe Webster). Nebraska isn’t likely to have 15 scholarship players on the roster next year, but the flexibility is better than the alternative.

Lakes made a good first impression, scoring 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting from deep, grabbing six rebounds and dishing out two assists in 26 minutes against an NAIA school in Doane.

However, he wasn’t able to replicate that performance in Big Ten play. He totaled 33 points, 10 rebounds, eight 3-pointers and three assists in 13 conference games. Lakes didn’t make more than one 3 in any Big Ten game despite multiple attempts in seven games.

Lakes logged a random start against Minnesota when Hoiberg suspended Allen but only played five minutes and didn’t record a stat outside of a foul. He didn’t play at all in six games. However, he did log double-digit minutes in Nebraska’s last four games, scoring in all four (though he only shot 6-f-1 from the field).

Ultimately, this was something of a throwaway year for Lakes. It was a learning experience for him, and now he needs to spend the offseason continuing to work on his body and polish his shot. He needs to find a position he can defend and needs to rediscover the shot that gave him so much success at the Division II level if he wants to earn a consistent rotation spot.

Bret Porter

2020-21 Stats: 0 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 1 block, 7 games, 10 minutes

Nebraska’s first fourth generation Husker athlete made his debut this season after redshirting in 2019-20. Porter spent some time away from the program for a personal matter midseason and only played in the final minutes of seven games, and although he didn’t crack the scoring column he did find his way into the box score one way or another in four of those games including his last game against Iowa where he had an assist.

After the season, Porter announced that he was entering the transfer portal and planned to seek playing opportunities elsewhere.

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