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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