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Senior Day Win “Storybook” Ending for Josiah Allick at Pinnacle Bank Arena

by Mar 5, 2024Nebraska Mens Basketball

Nebraska Cornhuskers celebrate seniors Jarron Coleman, C.J. Wilcher, Josiah Allick, and Keisei Tominaga before taking on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during a college basketball game Sunday, March 3, 2024, in Lincoln, Neb. Photo by John S. Peterson.
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Josiah Allick’s high school career ended at Pinnacle Bank Arena with a 59-54 loss for Lincoln North Star against Omaha South in the 2019 state semifinals.

Five years and three stops later, he got another crack at a last chapter in the Vault, and this time he wrote a much better ending as the Huskers took down Rutgers 67-56 to cap an 18-1 season on their home court.

“Obviously, I only got to play here for one year, but my heart’s been here since I was a little kid,” Allick said. “And so to be able to go out that right way and just really have it kind of unfold the way it did, just me getting to play my some of my best basketball, at least playing my best just with my hustle. I’ve been very inconsistent this season and so I’m happy I was able to show up for us tonight and just kind of get that momentum, not leave a sour taste in our mouth … I’m definitely going to remember it, especially because up until this year I thought my last game in PBA was going to be a loss in the semifinals in high school. So I’m happy now I can officially know that my last game here is a dub.”

Allick recorded his first double-double as a Husker in the win, finishing with 10 points and 12 rebounds, including six on the offensive end. The Scarlet Knights crushed Nebraska on the offensive glass in the teams’ first meeting, which fueled Rutgers’ comeback win. Second-chance points were essentially a wash in game two, and Coach Fred Hoiberg credited Allick for setting the tone in that area as he recorded a tap out and pulled down a rebound of his own on the first possession of the game.

Here are all 12 of Allick’s rebounds from the game. Take note of the work he does boxing out on both ends, and the hustle to track down rebounds outside of his area as well.

“For me, the biggest thing was just going out on a strong note,” Allick said. “This a team that punked us last time we played. Obviously, at the end of the day sometimes you play your best basketball and you still lose; it just doesn’t come out the right way. But I knew that going into this, I wasn’t going to let it happen that way. I wasn’t going to let us get punked in front of our home crowd after all the improvements and just consistency we’ve shown at home this year. That was my whole approach was I’m like, ‘They’re not getting us on the glass this game.’ … I was almost kind of in like a, ‘we’re not going out sorry,’ kind of deal.”

In addition to the put-back above, Allick recorded a rim-rattling dunk, a pick-and-roll finish, a corner 3 and a slick assist to fellow senior Keisei Tominaga for a bucket.

“It was the perfect night for our seniors to go out the way they did,” Hoiberg said. “I told them after the game, I’ll never forget my senior night. It still burns me up inside. We got beat and I was 3-for-16 against Oklahoma and it was a miserable night and I still think about it. I went home and I kicked a lamp over and broke it, and it still lives with me. So to send these guys out like that was a perfect ending …  What Josiah has given us in a year is just absolutely remarkable. For Josiah setting the tone for us in those first couple possessions, our guys, they were all over the place early in that game.”

Allick went out in style on and off the court. He showed up to the press conference in a faux fur coat before fielding a question about Juwan Gary, who also notched a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

“That was awesome,” Allick said. “We both just take a lot of pride in just being those crashers. That’s kind of why I’m sporting the fur coat. I wore it today just because I knew I was going to come with a little flair today regardless. I’m a hustler. I’m a hustler, baby. What you think? ‘Wan is the same way. I’m sure if I would have had a second one, I’m sure he’d be wearing his today too. We both just love finding those extra possessions, doing that little scrappy work.”

Nebraska Cornhusker forward Josiah Allick (53) sporting a faux fur coat after the win over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during a college basketball game Sunday, March 3, 2024, in Lincoln, Neb. Photo by John S. Peterson.

Nebraska senior Josiah Allick sporting a faux fur coat after the win over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Photo by John S. Peterson.

Allick said he bought the coat, which he’s wearing in his profile photo on Twitter, off Amazon for $70, a “pretty good deal.” It’s one of many ways Allick has shared his outgoing personality with the fan base, which has made him a fan favorite in addition to his hard work on the court.

Allick has bounced back and forth between the bench and the starting lineup and between the four and the five spots, filling whatever hole the team needed while averaging 6.9 points and 5.1 rebounds in 23.3 minutes per game.

“I’m really grateful that I got to have a second chance at wrapping up my collegiate career,” Allick said. “Having been a little bit of a journeyman in my college career and playing at such a diverse amount of levels and in different parts of the country, I’ve been very fortunate that I ended up at three really great positions. To finish it here at home was something that I didn’t think was ever going to be a possibility, so to have it unravel this way and to be playing the way we are, to be in the position we are, is really something that just seems almost kind of fake. It doesn’t seem like it’s real when you really think about it in its entirety.”

He began his college career at Kansas City, where he spent three seasons and developed into a double-digit scorer for the Kangaroos. He made the leap from the Summit League to the Mountain West after that, transferring to New Mexico for his senior season. He settled into more of a defensive and rebounding role for the Lobos, averaging 8.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.

Allick decided to take advantage of his extra season of eligibility to transfer once again, and when Hoiberg first reached out, Allick wasn’t particularly interested. He was looking for a team firmly in position to earn an NCAA Tournament bid. The timing didn’t seem right with where he thought Nebraska was as a program, and he was looking for a safer option. However, the more he thought about it, the more Nebraska as a possibility appealed to him.

“I kind of realized even though it’s far from a sure shot, the university and Coach Hoiberg and this team were in a really strong position to be legitimate contenders for making an at-large bid coming out of the Big Ten, regardless of the projections having us at 11 or 12; I didn’t entertain them too much,” Allick said. “I haven’t played in March — I played in the NIT last year, but I haven’t played in March Madness in my career. As college athletes and hoopers in general, there’s always that extra sense of pride … It’s something really different and special about college basketball with the level of camaraderie and passion and buy-in that people have for what’s going on …

“Obviously I’m from here and I know the connotations that come with Nebraska basketball and getting to be a part of history and start the momentum of changing that narrative is something that is kind of that storybook.”

That gamble has paid off as Nebraska is in position to earn a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament and an at-large bid to the Big Dance. The transfer has led to a somewhat reduced role compared to his previous two stops, but it has also given him a chance to compete against some of the best bigs in the country in the Big Ten.

“It’s been great just because my dream growing up was always to play against the biggest and the best,” Allick said. “The Big Ten, over the course of history in college basketball, has always been at the top, top three at least. I knew coming into it just with the way that Coach Hoiberg likes to construct his teams and his play style, that we were going to be, on average, usually a little bit undersized. I loved that challenge of it, especially not only just playing in an already big league, but making that jump in overall competition. Everybody, one through five, they’re just bigger, they’re stronger, they’re faster, they’re more skilled. I just love it because as a competitor, I take a lot of pride in my defense and to have that challenge of knowing that it’s not just that one big matchup in conference play against the potential player of the year, it’s every team has somebody that is a force to be reckoned with, and obviously the biggest force in college basketball with Zach Edey.

Nebraska Cornhusker forward Josiah Allick (53) poses with some kids for a q;uick photo before a college basketball game against the South Carolina State Bulldogs on Friday, December 29, 2023, in Lincoln, Nebraska. Photo by John S. Peterson.

Josiah Allick poses with some kids for a quick photo before a college basketball game against the South Carolina State Bulldogs on Friday, December 29, 2023, in Lincoln, Nebraska. Photo by John S. Peterson.

“Just knowing that every night you have to bring your A game and you have to be in the right mindset and you’re going to be put to the test is what I’ve enjoyed more than anything else, kind of keeping myself in that zone that you’ve got to show up or you’re going to get shut out. I’ve never ran from a challenge and that’s part of why I took on the biggest challenge of my career in my last year.”

A year ago, a Lincoln native in Sam Griesel turned down other options to spend his last season back at home helping Hoiberg turn the Nebraska program around. This year, Allick has taken that baton from Griesel and helped push the program even further.

“Josiah made a commitment to come back home and hopefully lead this program to where it’s never been before,” Hoiberg said. “Josiah, the energy that he brings, the passion that he brings to the floor in practice, in shoot-around, when he comes in and does individual work, he just does everything with force. He’s had some really, really good moments for us and a lot of times it doesn’t show up in the box score, just all the little things that Josiah does.

“But what has been really cool, all the great things he’s done on the floor for us, but in one year, what he has done off the court and the amount of people that come up and say they got a chance to talk to Josiah wherever it is, at a restaurant, at a high school game, and just the type of person that Josiah is. It’s been fun to see he and Bekka, how they have interacted, and to see his mom at every game and his siblings, it’s been a really cool situation to have Jo back here for his last year of college.”

Sunday’s senior day ceremony was an emotional moment for Allick and his family, but he’s trying to push off any serious reflection on what this season as meant to him until after it’s over. For now, there’s still work to do and more history to make.

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