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Nebraska Basketball

Huskers Offer Max Murrell, Continuing Focus on Local Recruiting

July 16, 2019
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This past weekend marked the final live recruiting period for prospective student-athletes with their AAU teams, and a strong showing in Atlanta brought another wave of offers for 2020 Millard North forward Max Murell.

In total, Murrell shared that he had received four new offers on Monday, and Nebraska was among them. That pushes his total to 19 Division I offers, and it makes him the third Mustang to receive an offer from Fred Hoiberg and his staff.

Murrell’s rise has been fascinating to see. Last summer, he received his first offer from UMKC after attending the program’s elite camp, but the school made a coaching change. This past spring, Murrell’s recruitment really got started after several coaches saw him play with Team Factory Gold down in Kansas City. UC-Santa Barbara, UC-Davis and Division II UC-San Diego issued offers after that weekend, and soon after William & Mary and Boston joined the fray as well. Then things slowed down for a bit.

Then his recruitment exploded in June after the Midwest Showcase. Murrell received 11 offers in three days, six of them from high-major teams. Creighton was the first of those six, but Virginia Tech, Kansas State, Minnesota, TCU and Iowa followed soon after.

Nebraska, Stanford, Northwestern and Old Dominion offered on Monday. Fred Hpiberg himself was down in Atlanta for Team Factory’s girst game of the week. It’s not hard to see the appeal with Murrell. He’s 6-foot-9 with above-the-rim athleticism, terrific shot-blocking instincts and the ability to step out to the 3-point line and knock down shots.

As a junior, Murrell averaged 11.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.3 blocks — solid, but not necessarily anything that screams “high-major.”

As a sophomore, he was at 6.9 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.9 blocks, and he didn’t play varsity as a freshman.

As a junior, Murrell only had six games with double-digit shot attempts. His career-high to this point is 20. Burrell was an excellent role player for Millard North, but he wasn’t a guy who often took on a big role offensively. That’s started to change, however. I watched him play with Team Factory at a tournament in the spring — before any of the offers came — and started to think to myself that Murrell just might have what it takes to attract the interest of some high-major schools with his unique blend of physical traits and skill set. He was knocking down shots from the perimeter at a high rate and also creating his own shot more than I had seen previously.

Even so, Murrell still looks to be more of a project than an instant-impact guy based on his slight frame. He’ll need to spend some time in the weight room before he’s able to hold his own on the block defensively and on the glass. Still, his upside is worth it.

That’s why Nebraska is trying to get involved. The Huskers are in a unique situation where they don’t technically have any open scholarships for the 2020-21 season with just two seniors currently on the roster and Donovan Williams (Lincoln North Star) and D’Andre Davis (Lawrence Central in Indianapolis, Indiana) already committed for the 2020 class. That hasn’t stopped Williams from recruiting Murrell to join him in Lincoln.

Nebraska has a handful of other offers out in that 2020 class as well. As we saw from the moment Hoiberg took over, this staff is always looking for ways to upgrade the talent on the roster.

In any case, local recruiting should be a bit simpler for the staff this coming season than it was for Tim Miles and his staff last year. The coaches had targets at Lincoln North Star (Williams), Omaha Creighton Prep (current Husker Akol Arop), Bellevue West (2021 point guard Chucky Hepburn) and Millard North (2021 wing Hunter Sallis). This season, Nebraska’s coaches will be able to check out three players (Murrell, Sallis and 2022 forward Jasen Green) in one gym.

This is the first time that I can remember seeing one high school team in Nebraska featuring three high-major recruits. Of course, all three players were on the roster last year as was Nebraska freshman walk-on Bret Porter, and the Mustangs still fell short of making it to the state tournament. 

I’ve already seen massive growth from Murrell even since the end of the high school season, and Sallis made a big leap from freshman to sophomore year as he grew into the team’s top offensive option and averaged over 18 points per game. Sallis has continued to make strides — he put up 28 points in his last game down at the Adidas Gauntlet Summer Championships — but he still needs to prove he can be consistent and he will have even more responsibility as Millard North will likely ask him to play quite a bit of point guard next season. As for Green, it was his potential that piqued Nebraska’s interest more so than anything he’s done to this point. How much of that potential he’s able to unlock as a sophomore could go a long way towards determine what kind of season the Mustangs have in 2019-20.

Millard North will definitely be the team to watch next season for both Husker fans and those who simply enjoy local high school hoops. There will be plenty of pressure on the Mustangs heading into the season and how they handle that will be fascinating to watch.

The offer to Murrell also shows Nebraska is committed to recruiting locally.  They’ve got two offers out (and one commit) in 2020, two in 2021 and one in 2022 already, and Hoiberg’s staff has only been in Lincoln for just over three months. 

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Huskers Offer Max Murrell, Continuing Focus on Local Recruiting

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