Husker players, recruits waiting to see what Hoiberg brings to table
It appears the players on the Nebraska men’s basketball team were prepared for a quick changing of the guard when it came to the coach who will be leading them.
Freshman Amir Harris said Saturday that the team met with Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos and other athletic department officials shortly after Tim Miles was fired last week.
“Bill Moos made it very clear that he had our backs and that the search went on for a long time,” Harris said. “I wasn’t exactly sure how fast this would all happen, but he prepared us that it was coming soon.”
“Soon” turned out to be four days, as news of Fred Hoiberg’s hiring became public Saturday morning. The former Iowa State and Chicago Bulls coach has agreed to a seven-year, $25 million deal, announced shortly after 3 p.m. Saturday.
Nebraska junior forward Isaiah Roby entered his name in the 2019 NBA Draft, a source Saturday night confirmed to the Journal Star.
The junior, who averaged 11.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, will not hire an agent. This means, if he chose to, Roby could return to Nebraska for his senior season.
Roby did a similar thing one season ago, asking for an evaluation from the NBA’s undergraduate advisory committee, but not working out for any teams.
While there is still a long way to go for both coach and players to build a relationship, the Hoiberg buzz of a new beginning has begun to take hold.
“It’s exciting to hear that the athletic department is working so hard to make our program better,” Harris said.
Nebraska freshman Brady Heiman shared Harris’ sentiment that Moos delivered on his promise.
″(Bill) told us he was going to get a big-name guy, and he definitely delivered on that,” Heiman said.
One thing is certain: Hoiberg’s reputation is already having an impact on recruits.
“His NBA knowledge, his connections in the league are huge,” said D’Andre Davis, a 2020 Husker recruit from Indianapolis. “My wanting to get to that level, to be able to play with a coach like that and in an NBA system, that attracts me.
“And playing in the Sweet 16, that’s something that I want to play in, so him being a coach that can get us there attracts me, too.”
Junior college signee Jervay Green is taking a wait-and-see approach over the coming days.
“I am waiting to see if he will reach out to me. … Talk to him, see where I fit with his plan and see who he plans on bringing in and go from there,” Green said Saturday. “I don’t know much about him as a coach, but when I asked around, people said he was a great coach.”
Green would appear to fit the mold of what Hoiberg looks for in a player. The high-scoring guard averaged 23.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists while shooting nearly 55 percent from the field and 39 percent from three-point range this season for Western Nebraska Community College.
Another recruit who seems to fit in Hoiberg’s system is Lincoln North Star standout Donovan Williams. Williams is committed for the class of 2020.
“I mean, my initial thought is that this is great,” Williams said. “Couldn’t have hired a better guy. The style of play his teams played with and the intensity at Iowa State, the Bulls and even the way he played … I have researched a ton about him, and this is great news.
“I am looking forward to talking with him and getting to know him better.”
As for what it all means for Williams’ commitment to NU, the high school junior will play the wait-and-see game, too.
“If (Hoiberg) likes my game and wants to keep the offer, then that’s great,” he said. “If not, I am in a really good place right now and I am just playing, focused on the summer and will wait and see where it goes from here.”
Williams said he thinks most of the recruits will stay and hopefully no one transfers. Another recruit, from Creighton Prep, Akol Arop is following the same path.
“As (Hoiberg) takes the basketball team in a new direction, we are hoping for success and that he builds a good team,” Arop said. “I had a very close relationship with Tim Miles and Michael Lewis and I really feel that God directed me in being part of the team.
“Now I hope to continue to grow in my faith and as a person with the new coach and direction for the team.”