The Australian sharp-shooter had a roller coaster ride of a season, going from starter to out of the rotation to key reserve, but in the end his final statistics show only meager improvement from his freshman year.
McVeigh opened the season as the starting small forward, and played very well in the first three games against lesser opponents, totaling 44 points and shooting 10-of-19 from 3-point range. However, he followed that with a terrible shooting slump, going 4-of-33 from deep (minus a 4-of-9 performance against South Dakota) over the course of eight games. It got so bad that Tim Miles did not play him in Nebraska’s Big Ten opener at Indiana.
However, Miles worked him slowly back into the rotation, and when Ed Morrow Jr. went down with his foot injury McVeigh saw his minutes continually rise, and he rediscovered his shooting touch. In 11 games from Jan. 8 to Feb. 18 (Nebraska’s last win of the season), McVeigh shot 24-57 (42.1 percent) from 3-point range.
Once again, however, McVeigh’s shot betrayed him and he closed out the season shooting just 5-of-21 from deep as Nebraska lost its final five games.
McVeigh did show some improvement inside the arc, driving to the basket a bit, finishing hook shots with either hand and even knocking down a couple mid-range jumpers. His 2-point percentage jumped from a putrid 36.8 percent as a freshman to a still not great but much better 45.6 percent as a sophomore. Unfortunately, despite the Jack McTreigh moniker, his 3-point percentage did not improve at all despite shooting almost two more per game. That’s a problem for a player whose value derives almost entirely from his shooting.
McVeigh’s rebounding and distributing actually declined as a sophomore as he saw more of his time at the three after playing mostly the four as a freshman.
Defensively, he was one of the lead communicators and knew where to be in help situations for the most part, but he is a tweener and struggled some as an on-ball defender because of it.
Best Performance: McVeigh played his best game in Nebraska’s biggest win, an 83-80 victory against Purdue on Jan. 29. McVeigh tied his career-high with 21 points, shooting 1-of-1 inside the arc, 4-of-6 outside of it and 7-of-10 from the free-throw line. He chipped in three rebounds, an assist and a career-high two blocked shots.
If McVeigh can’t develop into a more consistent shooter, his playing time likely will fluctuate just as much next season. Nebraska needs a consistent perimeter shooter (or two, or three), and if McVeigh can’t be that guy then someone else will get that chance. Isaac Copeland will likely take some of his minutes at the four, and at 6-foot-6, freshman Nana Akenten could play at the three or the two and looks to be a promising shooter based on his high school career. McVeigh’s minutes will also be impacted by the development of Isaiah Roby, who can play the three or the four just like McVeigh.
McVeigh is at Nebraska’s deepest position, and competition should be fierce for minutes at the three and four. That could be a tough spot for McVeigh, but on the other hand if he does earn a similar role next year it will mean he made a significant leap forward in his development, which is a great thing for Nebraska.
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.