Basketball season is in full swing with the Huskers deep into nonconference play and high school hoops starting up in Nebraska. The Huskers are off to their best start in three decades, and they have more talent on the way next year as well.
Fred Hoiberg announced his 2024 signing class recently, which featured in-state 2025 commit Braden Frager (Lincoln Southwest) reclassifying to join Wisconsin native Nick Janowski (Pewaukee) in signing national letters of intent. With Southwest tipping off its season on Thursday and Pewaukee starting next week, let’s take a deeper dive into the two future Huskers with a look at some of their highlights from this past summer.
We’ll start with Frager, the 6-foot-7, 210-pound wing from Lincoln. He averaged 11.4 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists while shooting 48.7% from the field including 41.7% from 3 as a sophomore for the Silver Hawks. What stands out most about Frager is his explosiveness as his athleticism allows him to impact the game in a lot of ways, most notably putting multiple defenders on posters during the summer.
Synergy Sports has 14 Adidas 3SSB games logged of Frager with ETG Midwest 16U from this past summer, and 17 of his 75 made field goals were dunks. He’s a freight train in transition who is powerful enough to finish above the rim with a clear lane and crafty enough to evade defenders with Euro-steps and other moves. He has good touch with his dominant left hand and is tough to stop when he can get downhill. He uses pump-fakes and jab steps in the halfcourt to create those openings to attack.
“He’s one of the most athletic kids I’ve seen in that entire class,” Hoiberg said. “He goes up and finishes above the rim with authority, dunks in a crowd and he’s a kid that is really working on improving his shot. He was a 42% 3-point shooter a year ago at Southwest and you can just tell the amount of time that he’s putting in to continue to make himself a great, elite shooter to go with that athleticism.”
Frager didn’t shoot quite as well from 3 for ETG as he did for Southwest, but he also hunted his shot a bit more as a primary creator for that team. He has clean, repeatable mechanics on his shot and has a chance to develop into a more consistent shooter as he continues to put in the work. He also likes to get to his pull-up if defenders are packing the paint and is athletic enough to rise up and shoot over the top of a contest.
In addition to putting people on posters, Frager also leverages his athleticism and downhill driving ability to draw help defenders and create shots for his teammates. He has the vision to find shooters on the perimeter as well as to set up big men in the dunker spot or in high-low situations. Frager isn’t necessarily a dynamic or shifty ball-handler at this stage in his development, but he still finds ways to get past his man and collapse defenses.
In addition to improving his ball-handling, Frager’s needs to continue making strides as a decision-maker. However, his athleticism and frame already make him a difference-maker as a scorer, playmaker and rebounder. Southwest lost four starters from last year’s team, so Coach Alex Bahe will rely heavily on Frager this season, his last as a Silver Hawk.
“He’s Big Ten body ready right now even as what was a ‘25 … The way that whole process went down is we had a lot of talks with the family, a lot of talks with Braden just about the different options that he would have and he’s in a position right now where he can graduate,” Hoiberg said. “He’s done a great job in the classroom and we just all kind of collectively got together and saw that that would be the best option for him. His focus right now is to help Lincoln southwest compete for a championship for this season, and then we’ll look forward to getting them here next summer.”
Frager and Janowski are both lefties, but they get things done in very different ways. Whereas Frager wins with explosiveness, Janowski wins with craft.
Janowski is a 6-foot-3, 190-pound combo-guard who has helped his Pewaukee squad to three straight state championships in Wisconsin. He averaged 23.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.4 steals as a junior. For his high school career, he’s shot 47% from 3 according to Nebraska’s release.
Synergy has 17 of Janowski’s games with Phenom University on the Nike EYBL circuit logged from this past summer. He averaged 12.4 points and 3.5 assists in those games, though he shot just 27.6% from 3. Even so, Hoiberg is high on Janowski’s shooting prowess and the much larger high school sample size backs that opinion up.
“Nick is one of the purest shooters that I’ve seen at that age,” Hoiberg said. “Coach Nate [Loenser] and I went up and saw him in an open gym-type setting, and they’re face-guarding him in practice and he’s still finding a way to get open. He’s got a tremendous basketball IQ. He can play with the ball in his hands, he can play off the ball. In our read-and-react five-out spaced offense, he’s going to fit in beautifully with that.”
Part of the low summer percentage is Janowski took a lot of really tough 3s, but he also hit some of them. He’ll rise up from well beyond the 3-point line and is also confident in his mid-range pull-up as well as his fadeaway in the post. He can run off screens and hit 3s off the catch or create his own 3-point opportunities off the dribble. He’s not the quickest, but he has a tight handle and is comfortable operating out of ball screens. Janowski also has good touch around the basket and is capable of finishing with either hand.
“One of the most competitive kids I’ve ever seen at that level,” Hoiberg continued. “His first workout every day is at 4:30 in the morning, and then he’s in the gym usually three times, sometimes four over the course of the day. Just to see his competitive fire and spirit, even in an in an open gym-type setting, it’s exactly what we’re looking for as we continue to try to put the right guys into our system and he fits us from a culture standpoint as well.”
Janowski has terrific vision and is capable of creating opportunities for teammates off the dribble as well as make quick passes off the catch. He makes great reads out of ball screens and does a great job of finding his big man around the basket as well as his shooters on the perimeter.
“The big thing we talked about as a staff is continuing to try to get the guys in here that fit what we want from a culture standpoint … These two fit exactly what we’re looking for from that standpoint,” Hoiberg said. “They’re all ultra-competitive players. Nick Janowski, he’s a guy who puts the right things in his body. He’s already got that figured out … Guys that have it figured out early, it’s pretty darn impressive. I know those guys are going to be fun to coach because they fit who we want to be. Two guys that I know that our crowd will rally behind, especially getting a local kid, that’s important to get a guy like Braden Frager, who’s right here in our backyard, and he’s excited, his family’s excited about obviously watching him play. I played in my hometown and there’s nothing like it to have the support of your friends and family and to help you through some tough times.”
Enjoy the Huskers’ success on the court now, but also keep in mine that Hoiberg has an incoming class featuring a couple of talented playmakers joining the fold next week that he can build around moving forward.