A collection of NBA scouts swung through Lincoln on Tuesday morning as Nebraska held its first pro day at the Hendricks Training Complex.
The Huskers opened up the two-hour practice session to the media as well as scouts to observe. Here’s some of what I saw.
>> I counted 15 or 16 different scouts lining the practice court sideline. This is the first time Nebraska’s has held an organized event like this. The Huskers coordinated with Creighton—holding its own pro day event in the afternoon—to give the scouts extra incentive to make the trip.
>> Keon Edwards and Jace Piatkowski were sidelined on Tuesday and did not participate in the practice. Everyone else was healthy.
>> New assistant coach Nate Loenser led most of the on-court work. Fred Hoiberg and Armon Gates chipped in from time to time while Doc Sadler observed from the sidelines and Matt Abdelmassih spoke with scouts.
>> The practice consisted of warm-up drills, stretching, transition work, halfcourt shooting drills, three-on-three and various forms of five-on-five.
>> Between C.J. Wilcher and Keisei Tominaga, the only miss I saw during the shooting drill was Tominaga’s first shot getting knocked out by another ball.
>> The teams early on broke down as follows: Alonzo Verge Jr., Trey McGowens, Bryce McGowens, Lat Mayen and Derrick Walker on the red team; Kobe Webster, Tominaga, Wilcher, Wilhelm Breidenbach and Eduardo Andre on the gray team; Sam Hoiberg, Jackson Cronin, Quaran McPherson, Trevor Lakes, Oleg Kojenets and Chris McGraw on the black team.
>> The star of the three-on-three section was Trevor Lakes. The sharpshooter from Division II University of Indianapolis was lights out. He had a rough first season in Lincoln. After planning to sit out as a redshirt, he received a waiver to play midseason and had to change gears. Then he got hurt, and that set him back again. Now he’s finally healthy, and he showed what he’s capable of on Tuesday.
Lakes continued to shoot the ball well in the five-on-five part of practice. At one point, he took charges on back-to-back plays (one from Verge and one from Trey McGowens) and then hit a 3 off movement.
>> Wilcher had a couple of buzzer-beaters during the 3-on-3 play which featured an 8-second shot clock. Wilcher hit a tough 3 at one point, and later he converted a difficult layup as time expired.
>> Tominaga had the quickest trigger in the gym, but freshman walk-on Sam Hoiberg showed off his athleticism by flying out and blocking a corner 3 from Tominaga. The JUCO transfer stuck with the play, however, getting it back and driving in for a layup.
>> Perhaps the best pass I saw all day came from Walker, a touch skip pass to Sam Hoiberg in the opposite corner for a 3.
>> As a tie-breaker for one of the early five-on-five games, Fred Hoiberg fired up a shot for the teams to rebound. Freshman wing Bryce McGowens showed off his length, rising out of the crowd to rip down the rebound with contact and secure the win for the red team. Later, McGowens showed off some toughness by taking a charge on defense, then set up Walker with a great pass to get him to the free-throw line.
The 5-star prospect was likely the biggest draw for the scouts in attendance. One sequence that stood out to me came during the last five-on-five scrimmage. He had a one-on-one opportunity in transition and ended up going up with a pretty weak attempt that never had a chance of going in. On the next trip down, McGowens got the ball again and that time he went up strong, going up for a dunk attempt and drawing a foul in the process. As Fred Hoiberg said recently, he’s still a freshman and is facing a steep learning curve this season like most young players. However, he clearly has the tools to be a special player.
>> For the last session of five-on-five play, Nebraska split the roster into two teams and let them go live. Hoiberg, Lakes and Cronin joined the Red team while McPherson, McGraw and Kojenets joined the gray team. However, Hoiberg had Lakes switch to the gray team during the first game.
Tominaga took over the first five-minute scrimmage for the gray team. He hit a tough buzzer-beating 3 after backpedaling out to the corner to put his team up 8-5 with 35 seconds left, then he went 3-for-4 from the free-throw line to seal an 11-7 win. Tominaga had a nice cut for a layup in the second scrimmage as well.
At one point during the second scrimmage, freshman big man Wilhelm Breidenbach looked to bring the ball up the court and Trey McGowens picked him up and pressured him full-court. Breidenbach managed to get the ball all the way to half court without turning it over against the quicker McGowens before passing off to a teammate.
After the gray team took it to the red team a bit in the first two scrimmages then struck first in the third with a pull-up jumper from Wilcher, the red fired back with 10 straight points to end it. Trey McGowens hit Mayen for a 3 then Bryce McGowens hit a pair of free throws. Mayen hit a tough layup plus a foul, then Walker rebounded the miss and kicked it out to Bryce McGowens for a 3.
>> Nebraska wrapped up the practice with free throws and sprints for every miss.
>> Verge made sure to bump fists with every scout (and media member) in attendance and thanked them for coming.
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.