Nebraska women’s basketball’s offseason is underway after the team’s WNIT Super 16 loss to Kansas.
The Huskers made a third straight postseason appearance, but were aiming to reach the NCAA Tournament for a second straight year. With that not goal not being accomplished, head coach Amy Williams may look to strengthen next season’s roster through the transfer portal.
Nebraska only had one guaranteed departure after this past season — all-conference guard Sam Haiby, who just completed her fifth year. The other twelve players all have eligibility remaining, and three freshmen will join the team. That being said, Jaz Shelley and Isabelle Bourne have already played four years of college basketball and entered the offseason unsure of whether they’d return for one more. Some players could leave Nebraska via the transfer portal as well.
Some of that movement has already begun, and more is surely to come.
>> March 27: Isabelle Bourne announces she will not play a fifth season, instead opting to return home to Australia.
Thank you Husker Nation ❤️ pic.twitter.com/yTa14GvdZ3
— Isabelle Bourne (@BourneIsabelle) March 27, 2023
Bourne was a key player for the Huskers the past four seasons, playing 16.6 minutes off the bench in her freshman year before spending the next three as a starter, double-digit scorer and team captain. The forward has been one of the team’s most efficient and well-rounded scorers, shooting 48.6% from the field and 33.2% from three the past three seasons. She was also one of Nebraska’s top rebounders this past season and averaged nearly 30 minutes per game.
Bourne was a three time All-Big Ten honorable mention, and her departure leaves the team with a big hole to fill. Nebraska didn’t get consistent contributions from its bench, and that extended to the frontcourt. Two of the Huskers’ incoming freshmen — Jessica Petrie and Natalie Potts — are forwards.
>> March 31: Big news for Williams and Nebraska basketball. Jaz Shelley is back for one more year with the Huskers.
No place like home. pic.twitter.com/ZDsJrMqXQw
— Jaz Shelley (@JazShelley) March 31, 2023
Shelley — who transferred to Nebraska after two seasons with Oregon — has been a star for the Huskers in her two seasons in Lincoln. She became Nebraska’s first first-team All-Big Ten selection under Williams in 2023. She led the Huskers with 14.6 points, 6.1 assists, 1.6 steals per game, while adding 4.8 rebounds. She also led Nebraska with 67 three-pointers over the season.
While her efficiency as a scorer dropped this year — her team-leading 14.6 points per game came on 38.9% shooting — there weren’t too many other shortcomings. Shelley is one of the best passers in the Big Ten, may be Nebraska’s best defender and is still capable of going off for 30-plus points in a game.
She also played 36 minutes per game, ranking in the top 15 in the country for total minutes this year.
>> April 18: Nebraska adds graduate transfer Darian White from Montana State.
White had a strong four-year career with the Bobcats. The 5-foot-6 guard made the All-Big Sky First Team in three consecutive seasons and was the conference’s defensive player of the year twice. Over her career, she’s averaging 14.3 points per game, 5.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.2 steals. She’s scored over 20 points in a game 14 times in the past two seasons, along with a pair of 32-point outings.
Her biggest struggle in her career has been efficiency. She shot 41.7% from the field this past season, and has been under 42% for the past three years. She doesn’t appear to be a major 3-point threat either, shooting 27.9% from long range on her career and attempting threes at a much lower volume in 2022-23.
Given White’s all-around ability and experience, she should be a strong candidate to start alongside Shelley and Allison Weidner in the backcourt. Nebraska was reliant on the three this past season, with Weidner or Haiby (due to injuries, the team never really had both available) being the only guard who was consistently a threat to drive to the rim. White should help that, taking most of her shots inside the arc and being top 50 in the country in free throw attempts per game last year.
It’s also worth noting that new Nebraska assistant coach Julian Assibey coached White at Montana State in 2019-20, which was her first season with the Bobcats and his last.
>> May 3: Team spokesperson confirms that guards Trinity Brady and Nailah Dillard will not be part of Nebraska’s active roster in 2023-24.
Both have remaining athletic eligibility after four years at the college level, but their times at Nebraska have been marked by various injuries.
Brady played 27 games in four years with the program, 17 of those coming in her freshman season. She started the first two games of 2020-21 before suffering a season-ending ankle injury, and health held her out for the following year as well. Brady returned to the starting lineup for the first eight games of the 2022-23 campaign, but sustained a concussion against Virginia Tech in December and did not return to athletic activity after that.
She averaged 2.4 points per game and nearly two rebounds over her career. She had a career-high scoring night against Oral Roberts to open the 2020-21 season, putting up 15 points.
Dillard transferred to Nebraska after one year at Texas Tech, but never played for the Huskers due to knee and hip injuries.
The two remain on campus and are supported academically by the program. Brady earns her bachelor’s degree in May, while Dillard is set to earn her master’s degree this year.