Bryce McGowens announced on Monday that he is entering the 2022 NBA Draft after one season at Nebraska.
— Bryce McGowens (@BryceMcgowens5) March 21, 2022
The 6-foot-7, 179-pound wing finished third nationally among all true freshmen in scoring at 16.8 points per game this season. He shot 40.3% from the field including 27.4% from 3 and 83.1% from the foul line while grabbing 5.2 rebounds and dishing out 1.2 assists per game. He garnered third-team All-Bg Ten and All-Freshman Team honors this season and the AP named him its Big Ten Newcomer of the Year after winning Big Ten Freshman of the Week eight times.
“Bryce told our staff that he has decided to declare for the NBA Draft,” Coach Fred Hoiberg said in a release. “Since he arrived on campus last summer, Bryce has been diligent in putting in extra work, whether it is in the gym or in the weight room, and you could see it in his continued improvement over the course of the season. Bryce has put a lot of thought into this decision, and we will do everything we can to support him as he prepares for the NBA Draft and the start of his professional career.”
The first 5-star commit in program history scored 20-plus points 11 times with a high of 29, set twice. He notched two double-doubles and hit a season-high of four assists five times. In the 12 games prior to the wrist injury that knocked him out for the Huskers’ regular-season finale, he averaged 19.8 points and attempted 7.8 free throws per game, converting at an 85.1% clip.
McGowens set school freshman records for points scoring average, free throws made and free throws attempted. He’s also second in field goals made, fourth in rebounds and sixth in 3-pointers made. McGowens shouldered a lot of responsibility for a Nebraska team that lacked in offensive creation and floor spacing and saw plenty of defensive attention throughout the season as Nebraska’s No. 1 option.
McGowens has hired an agent and intends to forego his remaining collegiate eligibility, so he isn’t simply testing the waters. His departure leaves a big hole in Nebraska’s lineup, but it was also expected. Playing one season of college basketball was always the plan for McGowens. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has McGowens ranked 30th on his top-100 list, pegging his range from late first round to early second, and he’ll look to boost his stock during the pre-draft process.
A big part of McGowens choosing Nebraska was the opportunity to play with his brother Trey, and although a broken foot knocked the elder McGowens out for nearly half the season, the two brothers did get to share the court for 17 games. Trey will have his own decision to make as far as returning to Nebraska for an extra season of eligibility or pursuing professional opportunities himself.
Though Bryce wasn’t in Lincoln long and the Huskers didn’t have as much success on the court as they were hoping, he did put down some roots and make some connections in the community throughout the past eight months.
Nebraska is set to return its fourth-leading scorer in C.J. Wilcher (8.1 points per game, 40.6% from 3) on the wing and he could step into a larger role after serving as the team’s sixth man during his first season in Lincoln. Derrick Walker (9.1 points per game on 68.5% shooting) could opt to return for an extra season of eligibility in the middle, though he has not yet announced his plans. Second-leading scorer Alonzo Verge Jr. exhausted his eligibility but the Huskers landed North Dakota State transfer Sam Griesel out of the portal on Sunday to play point guard. Wilhelm Breidenbach, a 4-star recruit in his own right in Nebraska’s top-20 2021 recruiting class that also included McGowens, should be back to full health after a knee injury cut his freshman season shot after just 10 games.
Nebraska’s current 2022 recruiting class includes 4-star guard Ramel Lloyd Jr., junior college center Blaise Keita and 3-star wings Jamarques Lawrence and Denim Dawson. Dawson enrolled mid-season to redshirt and practice with the team.
McGowens will look to be the third Husker drafted in the past four years, joining Isaiah Roby in 2019 and Dalano Banton last year. The NBA Draft Combine is scheduled for May 16-22 in Chicago. The NBA Draft will take place on June 23 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. 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.