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The ideal transfer portal haul for Nebraska Basketball



Nebraska Basketball
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska basketball has been busy in the transfer portal and here is our look at the ideal haul for the Huskers — one that is also realistic.

The transfer portal is the No. 1 topic on the mind of Nebraska basketball fans right now as the Huskers are working overtime to improve their roster for next season.

Of course, the biggest question might be whether Keisei Tominaga will come back, but if he wants a shot at the NBA, Nebraska basketball is by far his best course of action. The Huskers have also worked hard to find passive NIL opportunities allowed for international players.

At any rate, it seems like the Huskers are operating as if Tominaga will be back with the team next season. My bet is that he declares for the NBA draft, goes through the process, and returns.

For Nebraska, it’s about adding pieces to play alongside him. The Huskers need a big to replace Derrick Walker, as well as a point guard and help on the wing. They have four scholarships available and with that in mind, here’s what I think is the perfect transfer portal haul for the Huskers — one that is very realistic too.

Point guard: Javian McCollum (Sienna)

The 6-foot-1 point guard entered the portal and is taking a visit to Nebraska April 17-19 after the dead period. He was a third-team All-MAAC last season and has two years of eligibility remaining.

According to Husker Online, Nebraska is in a good position here. Some fans might prefer Latrell Wrightsell to McCollum and I could see that point. Wrightsell is from Omaha but doesn’t quite have the playmaking track record of McCollum.

Still, Wrightsell would be a great addition and Nebraska has talked to him about playing with former five-star Hunter Sallis, another Nebraska native. However, Wrightsell’s dad played at Creighton and the Blue Jays have a big need. They also just made the Elite 8.

I’m worried the combo of Wrightsell and Sallis will wind up in Omaha. Sallis I think has a better shot of ending up at Nebraska and McCollum would be a solid piece next to him. He’s a playmaking point guard who also averaged 1.1 steals per game and scored 15.9 points per game. He also averages 3.9 assists, shoots 89 percent from the free throw line, and is a 35-percent 3-point shooter.

Wrightsell is worth pursuing, yet McCollum is probably the more realistic option, and in terms of playmaking point guards, he might be the better fit anyway.

Guard: Hunter Sallis (Gonzaga)

This is the name many Nebraska basketball fans are concerned with and they should be. Sallis is a former five-star recruit from the state of Nebraska and Fred Hoiberg has been in regular contact since he hit the portal.

To me, Sallis would be ideal to take the role vacated by Emmanuel Bandoumel. One thing that got Sallis minutes at Gonzaga, around 16 per game, was his ability to defend. Nebraska doesn’t really have a defensive stopper, especially in the backcourt and Sallis would be perfect for that role.

In an expanded offensive opportunity, he would also have the chance to thrive and develop more on that end. Even though he only shot 25 percent from 3-point range last season, he barely took more than three shots per game and just two 3-pointers per game.

When you don’t shoot the ball much, it can be harder to get a rhythm and Sallis will have a better chance to score and establish a more consistent role at Nebraska. His impact on the defensive end would be huge too, which is why he’s still my No. 1 target in the transfer portal for the Huskers.

Wing: Brice Wiliams (Charlotte)

Brice Williams from Charlotte might actually be the first transfer portal commitment for the Huskers. He will be visiting this weekend and according to Robin Washut of Husker Online, there are some strong ties to the coaching staff, which is always important in the portal.

Nebraska wanted Jamison Battle of Minnesota before he committed to Ohio State, but Washut reports that the Huskers view Williams as a similar player. He’s 6-foot-7 and was listed as a power forward coming out of high school and a guard according to his transfer profile.

Nebraska could use another 3/4 type player to go along with Juwan Gary and Williams could be that guy. He shot 39 percent from 3-point range last season and averaged 13.8 points per game in 27 minutes. He also grabbed 5.3 boards and is a solid defender. The points-per-possession rating with him on defense (per 100 possessions) was at (1.0 points per possession) or lower in each of his three seasons.

Williams came off the bench for most of the year for Charlotte too, so he would probably be fine doing the same thing for the Huskers next season. Keep an eye on him this weekend.

Center: John Hugley (Pittsburgh)

We have talked about Hugley before. The 6-foot-9 center scored over 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds per game two years ago. Last season, he dealt with injuries and decided to transfer about mid-way through the season.

So there are some question marks. He was also in some legal trouble, although he didn’t get charged for anything that stemmed from a car being stolen.

Hugley is taking an official visit to Nebraska later this month and Steve Sipple of Husker Online said that Nebraska basketball is basically the favorite right now. 

If the visit goes well and Nebraska basketball feels comfortable with Hugley, it could have its replacement for Walker, who was one of the top-scoring big men in the Big Ten.

Hugley is proven in that regard and if he’s got his head on his straight, he could be a factor for Nebraska basketball in the 2023-24 season.

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Nebraska Basketball has positive update on Juwan Gary



Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska basketball coach Fred Hoiberg met with the media on Friday. He issued injury updates to several members of the basketball team, including power forward Juwan Gary.

Gary averaged 9.5 points and 6.5 rebounds for Nebraska basketball last season. He started the first 17 games of the season. He was ruled out for the year and mid-January. Gary underwent shoulder surgery shortly thereafter, and now appears to be at full strength, according to Hoiberg.

This is certainly big news, as he was playing at positive level  before his injury. His athleticism was on full display, and he offered solid play defensively. Perhaps the biggest thing that Nebraska basketball missed following his injury was his rebounding ability. He had 11 rebounds at Kansas State in December which was a season-high for him. He had at least six rebounds in the final five games he appeared in.

It also sounds like he is working on other aspects of his game, as noted in a report by Brian Christopherson of Husker247. 

He’s going to be on the court on Monday, in fact. “Not full. He will not be cleared for contact for probably at least another month, but he’s doing pretty much everything,” Hoiberg said.

While recovering from his shoulder surgery, he worked a lot on one-handed shooting and addressing his balance in his jumper that Hoiberg thinks will make him more consistent as a shooter.

Gary working to be well-rounded for Nebraska Basketball

Working on the midrange game is definitely important for Gary. Nebraska basketball already has a perimeter shooter in Keisei Tominaga. Having a refined mid-range type of player will be important for the balance of the program. With the attention that Tominaga is going to require defensively, having a player like Gary with a refined jumper and mid-range game will be difficult for the opposition to stop. Adding that on top of his athleticism will undoubtedly make him more of a complete player.

In any event, it sounds like Nebraska basketball is one step closer to having a full-strength roster. Not only will they be full strength, but they will be veteran-laden. The experience will certainly help, especially as the huskers will try to navigate the Big 10 schedule in the second part of the year.

in what is a must-win season, another piece of the puzzle is one step closer to returning.

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3 thoughts on Keisei Tominaga’s return to Nebraska Basketball



Nebraska basketball
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

The return of Keisei Tominaga to Nebraska basketball for the 2023-24 season is massive and here are three thoughts on what it means for the Huskers.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Keisei Tominaga declaring for the NBA draft was a great move. Every player with NBA aspirations should do it. But his return to Nebraska basketball which was announced on Wednesday night is enormous for Fred Hoiberg and the Huskers.

It’s hard to put into words how devastating a loss it would have been for Nebraska basketball, and frankly, for the fans.

The way that Keisei captured the imagination of Nebraska fans down the stretch — it was special and it hasn’t happened in a long time.

There were questions about him returning home to Japan to play, where I’m sure he could get a sizeable contract. Tominaga will play for Japan in the fall too, so he’s becoming a national figure.

However, he said in an interview with the Indiana Pacers media that his dream was to play in the NBA. Nebraska basketball is the best place for him to realize that dream and so for Tominaga and the Huskers, it was a win-win.

Here are three thoughts on what it means for the 2023-24 Nebraska basketball season.

Keisei Tominaga fever

This season is going to be insanely fun. Tominaga has a chance to become a Nebraska basketball legend. After becoming a starter last season, he averaged 17.4 points per game and 2.7 3-point makes. Tominaga was one of the best offensive players in the Big Ten down the stretch.

Can he replicate that for an entire season? I don’t see why not. He averaged over 13 points per game last season for the Huskers and shot 40 percent from beyond the arc. That will be hard to maintain because I expect his volume to go up.

However, he showed last season, he’s more than just a shooter. Keisei made more 2-pointers last season than 3-pointers. He needs to keep adding to his offensive arsenal but that’s what this offseason will be about.

Fred Hoiberg has talked about how he’s transformed his body and he looked fit in his workout with Indiana. I also can’t wait to see what he’s going to do next season, as I expect him to be even better.

I just know we are in store for what should be one of the most enjoyable seasons in Nebraska basketball history, thanks to Keisei Tominaga who electrified the Vault last season and should do that even more in 2023-24.

Nebraska baskeball is an offseason winner

The Huskers already have one of the top transfer portal classes and when you calculate the return of Keisei Tominaga, Nebraska baskeball has to be one of the offseason winners in college basketball.

Obviously, Nebraska isn’t a team you think about in terms of college basketball much. But Fred Hoiberg is building something. It took longer than expected but last year was just the start.

Adding Rienk Mast, Brice Williams, Josiah Allick, and Ahron Ulis was huge for Nebraska. Ulis was Iowa’s starting point guard and filled an important need. He’s also got more offensive potential and if Fred can help him reach it, his addition will be viewed even more favorably.

Ulis is a solid point guard though. He can run the offense and his playmaking will be improved at Nebraska. Mast and Allick can help fill the void down low left by Derrick Walker. Both are exceptional in the post. Mast is a stellar 3-point shooter too and is deadly in the ball-screen game.

Imagine Mast running a two-man game (ball screens) with Tominaga. Fred is going to T that up a bunch this year and that’s another area where Keisei will be counted on to do more — playmaking. He averaged 0.7 assists last season and that number needs to be at least double.

Williams is one of the most underrated additions in the entire transfer portal and with all those pieces, Hoiberg can put out some really interesting lineups.

Most importantly, Fred did a great job of filling the needs with really solid players — three averaged double figures previously in their college career — and getting Keisei back is the cherry on top.

It’s postseason or bust for Nebraska basketball

This team has enough talent to make the NCAA tournament. I don’t think that’s a super bold statement. Tominaga has All-Big Ten potential and even with two open scholarships, I love this roster.

Jamaques Lawrence is ready to take a leap too as a sophomore and as long as Juwan Gary can find his old form once he returns from injury, this should be a really solid rotation.

Sure, Nebraska could use more depth on the wing. Yet, even Ramel Lloyd could prove to be an answer to that question. He could also add more depth to the backcourt, depending on how Hoiberg wants to use him.

The starting lineup should feature Ulis, Tominaga, and Mast. Beyond that, it just depends. Allick could start, and so could Williams, Lawrence, and Gary. CJ. Wilcher is another solid depth piece. Blaise Keita too. He adds some rim protection. I also like what Sam Hoiberg can bring and wouldn’t be shocked if he was put on a scholarship.

Frankly, if the Huskers haven’t added anyone else, Hoiberg deserves a scholarship. He proved last year that he wasn’t playing just because of his last name.

Last season, Nebraska was probably a win away from the NIT and that was after a horrific start in the Big Ten and a slew of injuries. If the team can stay healthy, a winning season and the NIT is a minimum expectation.

Reaching the NCAA tournament is realistic (so is 20 wins) and all I know is that I’m as excited about this season as I’ve been about a Nebraska basketball team in a very long time.

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Nebraska Basketball: Keisei Tominaga returns as offseason rolls



Nebraska basketball
Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Massive news came out on the Nebraska basketball front Wednesday, as Nebraska basketball star Keisei Tominaga announced he would be returning the program for his senior season.

Tominaga was an electric shooter for the Nebraska basketball program last year. He played in 30 games, and started all 14 of them at guard. He really was a key cog in the Nebraska basketball offense. The guard averaged 13.1 points per contest, and shot 50% from the field. He was able to make his mark from three-point range, shooting 40% from beyond the arc.

He emerged more so later in the season, as he was able to get a ton of playing time late in the year. The month of February was particularly kind to him, as he had six 20-point games. He was able to find his shooting stroke, and he shot with confidence. It’s also worth noting that he was able to really do it efficiently, as he had over a 50% field goal percentage in nine of Nebraska’s final 10 regular-season games.

What does this mean for Nebraska Basketball?

This is good news for Nebraska on multiple levels. Tominaga did a good job of getting high-percentage looks, and getting his own shot. He did very well coming off screens, and creating looks for himself. His ability to attract defensive attention often opened up lanes and good looks for his teammates. Tominaga was often automatic from behind the arc, and he gave Nebraska basketball perimeter weapon that they had been missing for years.

This news is just another big win in what has been a tremendous off-season for Nebraska. The Huskers were able to get several players from the transfer portal with Josiah Allick and Brice Williams being two of the bigger names out of the transfer portal class. The transfers all have the ability to create their own offense. Now with Tominaga back, that should be able to help the rest the program play to their strengths.

It’s been a very successful off-season for Nebraska basketball. Now, Fred Hoiberg has to put all the pieces together, and a season in which wins are going to be required.

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