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Husker Hoops: Staying, Going, Portalling

by Mar 26, 2024Nebraska Mens Basketball

Nebraska Basketball Roster
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nebraska’s season came to a less than dramatic end Friday night with a 98-83 first-round NCAA Tournament loss to Texas A&M. The Husker hoops roster rebuild has already begun for the 2024-25 season.

A promising start of the game with Keisei Tominaga raining 3-pointers turned into a struggle to get a defensive stop in the last 30 minutes of the game.

The loss means an end to one of the more memorable seasons in program history. It also means the work starts immediately on the 2024-25 roster.

Nebraska will have a different look next season. They lose two players to graduation, Keisei Tominaga, the team’s leading scorer, and fellow starter Josiah Allick. C.J. Wilcher went through the senior day ceremony but could come back with another year of eligibility. 

“Those guys are infectious,” Coach Fred Hoiberg said. “They bring it every day, but we’ve got a team full of those guys. We’re going to miss those guys a ton, we’re going to miss them every day, but we’ll get some good ones in here and that starts — portal’s open. This thing starts now.”

Decisions are being made even though teams are still competing in the NCAA Tournament with the Sweet 16 tipping off later this week. 

“You used to be able to breathe a little bit when this thing ended,” Hoiberg said Friday night. “You don’t get to do that anymore. It’s right back to work. You’re already making calls and doing that type of thing. We’re going to meet with all of our players individually over the next couple of days and figure out how to best construct the roster to help us get over this hump.”

The Huskers will obviously have a different look next season with two starters out of eligibility, and we examine what that might look like in our latest recruiting notebook, presented by Pinnacle Bank.

Who’s Gone

Tominaga, Allick and Jarron Coleman are the only Nebraska players who have exhausted their eligibility. 

Tominaga was an eclectic scorer and drew national attention leading up to the NCAA Tournament. His shot-making and creating are things you don’t see from many college or even professional basketball players. Despite his offensive prowess, he was a liability at times on the defensive end and if he wasn’t making shots he was on the bench in late-game situations at times. 

Allick arrived from New Mexico for one year. He exceeded expectations in his one season in Lincoln. Brought in to be a backup post player, he stepped into the starting role when Juwan Gary was suspended early in the season and remained a starter through most of the season. However, he was never able to provide the type of scoring and shot-blocking threat that was needed. 

Jarron Coleman was a late addition to the roster after graduating from Ball State and could never crack the rotation during Big Ten play. Coleman was second-team All-MAC after scoring 14.6 points per game for the Cardinals. In Lincoln, he appeared in 12 games and averaged 2.4 points per game. 

Ramell Lloyd Jr. was the first Nebraska player to enter the transfer portal on Monday. Frankly, he never lived up to expectations after committing to the Huskers as a 3-star prospect two years ago. His health was a question after showing flashes in the team’s overseas trip to Spain last summer. In his two seasons at Nebraska, he did not appear in a regular season game. 

Freshman Eli Rice entered the portal on Monday as well. That decision is a little more surprising. Rice showed promise in his first season. The 6-foot-8 wing was a solid rotation player who appeared in 12 games before his high ankle sprain in the middle of Big Ten play.

Ideally Blaise Keita when healthy enough to play was going to provide some front-court depth at a minimum. On Tuesday, Keita enter the transfer portal and will not be returning to Nebraska. 

Remaining Decisions

Rienk Mast was the top addition to the roster last offseason. Mast, a junior, has a year of eligibility left but could decide to pursue professional opportunities. Mast was extremely productive in his first season in Lincoln. He was third on the team in scoring (12.3 per game) and led the team with 3.0 assists per game. Outside of statistics, Mast is a perfect culture fit and was one of the most valuable players on the roster. 

“I would definitely not say that I am completely out of coming back to Nebraska,” Mast said after the Texas A&M loss. “Could be back, could be not, I’m just going to explore the opportunities and make a decision from there.”

If Mast wanted to transfer or take the overseas professional career now, there would be no shortage of suitors.  

Wilcher participated in the Huskers’ senior day ceremony and has graduated. He has one year of eligibility remaining and could call it a career, come back to Nebraska or decide to enter the portal as a graduate transfer. Wilcher was eighth on the team in minutes played and averaged 17.9 per game. His shot has improved but if he wants a larger role he might need to leave Lincoln to get it. 

Likely Back

Brice Williams’ transfer from Charlotte worked extremely well for him and Nebraska. Williams was second on the team in scoring (13.4) and led the team in minutes played (1010). He was the team’s best overall player and a mid-season move to the lead ball-handler role made him the most important player on the team. Unless something unexpected happens, Williams should be vital to the 2024-25 roster in Lincoln. 

If it isn’t Williams, Juwan Gary was the most important player on the roster this season. Despite playing in just 28 of the 34 games, Gary was third on the team in average minutes played (27.0). His athleticism, ability to rebound and switchability defensively are a big piece to the 2024-25 puzzle.

Jamarques Lawrence was forced into the starting lead guard role at the beginning of the season. His season took off when the move to come off the bench happened. Lawrence plays with great pace and is not just a personality match to Hoiberg and the coaching staff but is a great culture fit. In his second season, he improved from 18.1 minutes a game as a freshman to 23.5 as a sophomore. With his jump in playing time, his on-court production increased from 5.0 points per game as a freshman to 6.9 as a sophomore. 

It’s safe to say Sam Hoiberg will be back next season. The walk-on guard became Nebraska’s defensive stopper at times and is a nice situational piece off the bench. 

Matar Diop has raw athleticism that you can’t teach. As Diop continues to develop, he could see an increase in paying time. Whether Ahron Ullis can see the floor in 2024-25 is a big question. He was likely going to be the starting point guard this season. At last check, the NCAA hadn’t ruled on his eligibility due to the State of Iowa student-athlete gambling probe. 

New Faces

Nebraska currently has two signed high school players in the 2024 recruiting class

Nick Janowski (Pewaukee, Wisconsin) is currently ranked as the 117th prospect in the country according to the 247Sports Composite. A 3-star combo guard, Janowski is not only one of the top 3-point prep shooters in the Midwest, he is an excellent passer as well. He is a perfect culture fit but will need to adjust to the speed of high-major college basketball. 

Lincoln Southwest wing Braden Frager will be on campus in June after leaving high school a year early. Frager has vertical athleticism you can’t teach and can stretch the floor with his developing jump shot. He will need to assimilate into college life and the college game quickly to see the floor as a freshman.


Like every other team in the country, Nebraska is going to need to fill needs via the portal. It doesn’t matter if Mast stays or goes, the Huskers desperately need to find ready-now athletic front-line help. A rebounding, shot-blocking, rim-running athlete is a priority. 

If Nebraska can’t get more athletic in the frontcourt, the team certainly needs to get more athletic in the backcourt. The last two games of the season (Illinois, Texas A&M) exposed a major need for Nebraska to find at least one elite wing defender. Finding a quick-twitch, athletic wing with size to replace Tominaga is of the utmost importance. They could use a second as well if anyone else on the current roster decides to transfer.  

If Ulis isn’t the point guard of the future, Hoiberg and his staff have to find a seasoned ball-handler. They are adding help in Janowski, but you never know what you are getting out of a freshman and he is more of a shooter. Somebody with experience — preferably who can defend the perimeter — is needed to help take the pressure off of Williams to be the primary ball-handler.

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