Fred Hoiberg has six seasons under his belt as a college coach, and he’s had a different saying point guard in each of them. That will continue in season seven as Cam Mack will not return to Lincoln for a second year.
What does a Fred Hoiberg point guard look like? Well, that’s a tough question to answer. Let’s run through his point guards one by one to show why.
2010-11 – Diante Garrett (SR, 6’4”, 190)
Stats: 17.3 PPG, 6.1 APG, 3.3 TPG, 3.7 RPG, 1.7 SPG, 41.3% FG, 31.9% 3FG, 82.5% FT
Hoiberg inherited Garrett in his first season at Iowa State and the versatile guard nearly doubled his scoring average in Hoiberg’s system. He wasn’t a great perimeter shooter, but he was a very good playmaker who had three double-doubles as a senior and led Iowa State through a tough season.
Garrett ended up playing 90 games in the NBA with phoenix and Utah.
2011-12 — Royce White (SO, 6’8”, 270)
Stats: 13.4 PPG, 5.0 APG, 3.8 TPG, 9.3 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 53.4% FG, 4-12 3FG, 49.8% FT
White definitely isn’t a typical point guard, but Iowa State ran everything around him and he was one of the best playmakers in the conference — and the country — in his one season on the court for the Cyclones after sitting out Hoiberg’s first season in Ames.
White rarely looked to shoot from the perimeter but he didn’t really need to as he was all power, barreling his way to the rim to finish himself or set up his teammates. He was a tough matchup for opposing teams with his size and strength and ability to handle the ball and see the court. He had 11 point-rebound double-doubles, a triple-double and 10 games with seven or more assists.
White was taken with the 16th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft but never made it in the league for reasons not related to basketball.
2012-13 — Korie Lucious (SR, 5’11”, 170)
Stats: 10.1 PPG, 5.6 APG, 3.3 TPG, 1.9 RPG, 0.8 SPG, 37.7% FG, 36.6% 3FG, 80.3% FT
Lucious was a sit one, play one transfer from Michigan State. He played in 92 games as Spartan with seven starts before getting suspended in January of 2011 and missing the rest of his junior year. He transferred from Iowa State after that and stepped in as the Cyclones’ starting point guard in 2012-13.
Lucious is the smallest point guard Hoiberg has had and he really struggled to score inside the arc, but he was a good 3-point shooter and a solid distributor who led the ‘Clones to the NCAA Tournament.
2013-14 — DeAndre Kane (SR, 6’4”, 200)
Stats: 17.1 PPG, 5.9 APG, 2.9 TPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 48.3% FG, 39.8% 3FG, 63.5% FT
Kane was Hoiberg’s first grad transfer point guard. After three productive seasons at Marshall, the big-bodied guard transferred to Iowa State for his senior year and continued to put up numbers. He was named All-Big 12 First Team, Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and Big 12 Tournament MVP.
Kane was a ferocious rebounder at the guard spot, recording six point-rebound double-doubles, and a physical offensive player who could bully his way to the rim and post up with his 6-foot-4 frame as well as shoot nearly 40% from deep. He had 15 games of 20 or more points but was also a consistent playmaker for others with 14 games of seven or more assists including a high of 12.
2014-15 — Monte Morris (SO, 6’2”, 170)
Stats: 11.9 PPG, 5.2 APG, 1.1 TPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.9 SPG, 50.7% FG, 39.5% 3FG, 75.3% FT
Morris the first high school recruit that Hoiberg developed into his starting point guard. He actually started 17 games as a freshman alongside Kane, but the following season Hoiberg turned the reins over to Morris fully.
Morris finished his career under Steve Prohm after Hoiberg left, but his sophomore season gave a preview of what he ended up becoming. Morris is a coach’s dream at the point guard spot with a historically elite assist-to-turnover ratio and terrific leadership traits. Morris was as efficient a scorer as you could ask from that spot as well, even if he wasn’t as much of a volume shooter as others. Morris had a game with 12 assists and zero points, a game with 24 points and five assists and one with 11 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, showing he could beat you all different kinds of ways.
Morris has carved out a solid career for himself in the NBA with the Nuggets after Denver drafted him with the 51st pick in the 2017 draft.
2019-20 — Cam Mack (SO, 6’2”, 175)
Stats: 12.0 PPG, 6.4 APG, 2.6 TPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 38.6% FG, 33.9% 3FG, 56.9% FT
Nebraska fans are plenty familiar with Hoiberg’s most recent point guard. The dynamic JUCO transfer dazzled with his distributing ability, recording the first triple-double in program history and finishing as one of the Big Ten’s assist leaders. However, he struggled to find a way to score himself effectively and his overall play really tailed off down the stretch of the season before the suspension that ultimately ended his Nebraska career.
He’s declared for the NBA Draft and has also entered the NCAA Transfer Portal, leaving his options open for next season.
Hoiberg’s history shows that he’s taken point guards of all shapes, sizes and paths (grad transfer, sit-out transfer, high school and junior college) and he’s made it work, changing his offensive focus to suit his best players’ strengths. He’s had a different primary initiator every year and all of them have been very productive. The one common thread that I can see is that all of them have averaged at least 5.0 assists in Hoiberg’s system. It seems like Hoiberg and Matt Abdelmassih put a premium on playmakers — guys that can create offense for themselves as well as others.
It will be interesting to see what the point guard position looks like moving forward. Hoiberg has some options.
Might he go the non-traditional route like he did with White and just hand the keys to Dalano Banton as a 6-foot-8 primary initiator? The Western Kentucky transfer definitely has the skills to handle the ball and set up his teammates. Will Banton be a grab-and-go threat in transition and secondary ball-handler in the halfcourt, or will he bring the ball up and run the offense as well? Either way, he’ll be a big part of what Nebraska does next season.
Hoiberg also landed two transfers this cycle. The first is another grad transfer in former Western Illinois standout Kobe Webster, a 6-foot, 160-pound guard. He probably compares most closely to Lucious among the point guards Hoiberg has already coached. Webster was more of a shoot-first player at Western Illinois as he didn’t have a ton of talent around him (3.4 assists per game in his three seasons). His jump shot — especially off the bounce — is his biggest strength.
The other transfer is Trey McGowens, a 6-foot-4, 190-pound combo-guard from Pittsburgh. Nebraska will look to get him a waiver to play right away if the NCAA doesn’t pass the new transfer rules for next season, but he could end up sitting out next season and might be the answer for 2021-22 instead. McGowens is more of an athletic slasher with good size at the point, though he played more of the two at Pitt alongside former Nebraska commit Xavier Johnson. His jump shot and overall offensive efficiency needs some polishing, as does his playmaking (3.6 assists t0 2.8 turnovers per game as a sophomore).
Webster and McGowens are completely different kinds of players, yet Hoiberg and his staff recruited both of them to play the point at Nebraska.
Hoiberg’s had a good run of starting point guards of many different sizes and skill sets in his programs over the years and he’s hoping to see that continue in 2020-21 regardless of who ends up winning that job.
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.