On Saturday, the Heartland Events Center in Grand Island played host to a number of current and future basketball stars in the 12th annual Heartland Hoops Classic. A couple of future Nebraska football players also took he court and helped lead their teams to victory.
Scholarship commit Garrett Snodgrass put up 19 points and 10 rebounds in a 63-43 York blowout over a good Bennington team. For more on Snodgrass, be sure to keep an eye out for the next issue of Hail Varsity Magazine as Greg Smith shares his story.
The other future Husker in Grand Island was walk-on commit Jacob Herbek, a defensive end for Grand Island Central Catholic who also starts at center for the Crusaders basketball team. Grand Island Central Catholic beat North Bend Central 52-43 in the fifth game of the event.
GICC coach Tino Martinez is the event organizer and as such, the Crusaders play in the event every year. As a multi-year letterman, Herbek has gotten the opportunity to play in the Heartland Events Center multiple times.
“It’s always fun, always fun playing in a big arena,” Herbek said. “It’s way different; it takes some getting used to. But I love it.”
There was a little something extra on the line for Herbek on Saturday as well: bragging rights against a couple of former teammates. Herbek played summer basketball for Nebraska Select alongside North Bend Central seniors Tanner Wietfeld and John Emanuel. Wietfeld led all scorers with 23 points, but Herbek’s team got the win.
“Not that it wasn’t going to mean something, but it did put a little extra,” Herbek said. “You really want to beat the people that you play with [during the summer]. I was happy we were able to come out on top.”
Herbek finished with eight points, four rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal. The win improved the Crusaders’s record to 14-7 with one game left in the regular season.
“We got off to a rocky start our first game at Lutheran,” Herbek said. “We bounced back and won nine straight. It’s been good but we know we can do better, we know we can play better basketball and we’re hoping we can finish out the season the way we want.”
Making his senior season even more special for Herbek is the fact that het gets to play alongside his younger brother, Isaac, a freshman who is starting for the Crusaders.
“It’s a pretty cool experience,” Herbek said. “We got to do it with football and now we get to do it in basketball. It’ something I’ve been looking forward to.”
Herbek has made his deposit and was therefore included in the list of incoming recruits Nebraska sent out on Nation Signing Day last week, meaning he is officially a Husker.
“It’s a really cool feeling,” Herbek said. “People always ask me about it and I always want to talk about it. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity; I’m happy I was lucky enough to get the chance.”
Herbek received scholarship offers from Nebraska-Kearney, Northwest Missouri State and some other Division II schools and was receiving some FCS interest as well, but Herbek decided walking on at Nebraska was the right choice for him.
“My parents and I broke down the football side of things, we broke down the academics, coaching, weights, nutrition, stuff like that and we just kind of looked at all of those and we decided that Nebraska would give me the best opportunity to be the best football player I could be and it would prepare me best for life after football,” Herbek said.
Herbek, who is slated to play defensive end at Nebraska, said he is around 210 pounds right now. He doesn’t have a specific goal in terms of weight for when he gets to campus in June but said he is going to hit the weights hard and is hoping he can get to the 225 to 230-pound range.
Herbek said his relationship with the Nebraska coaching staff is “pretty good.”
“I’ve gotten the chance to talk to Scott Frost, talk to Kenny Wilhite,” Herbek said. “I like them both; they’re great coaches.”
Grand Island Central Catholic will close out the regular season at home against St. Paul on Friday.
Jacob Padilla has been writing for Hail Varsity since 2015. He covers football, volleyball men’s basketball and prep sports. He also co-hosts the Nebraska Preps Postgame and Nebraska Shootaround podcasts for the Hurrdat Media and Hail Varsity podcast networks. 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.