Busting Brackets

Nebraska Basketball: Coach Fred Hoiberg gets major wins in 2024 transfer portal

After Nebraska made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 10 years the Huskers needed to rebuild in the transfer portal.
Mar 22, 2024; Memphis, TN, USA;  Nebraska Cornhuskers guard Brice Williams (3) handles the ball
Mar 22, 2024; Memphis, TN, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers guard Brice Williams (3) handles the ball / Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

The transfer portal went all in this season and the portal had immense talent and no team was immune to seeing star players enter the portal. In normal seasons teams that win or make the NCAA tournament usually would not have a ton of portal entries but this season all of that was thrown out the window. Nebraska was a little different this year though. The Huskers made the NCAA tournament for the first time in the last 10 seasons and what followed afterward was unexpected by many close to the program.

Nebraska was already set to lose stars Keisei Tominaga and Josiah Allick. Reserve Boogie Coleman was also a senior. The Huskers did lose two players who were expected to leave in big man Blaise Keita and guard Ramel Lloyd Jr. Lloyd Jr. never saw a minute at Nebraska in two seasons. Then there were the unexpected losses of CJ Wilcher who transferred to Texas A&M, Jamarques Lawrence who transferred to Rhode Island, freshman Eli Rice transferred to Penn State, and promising big man Matar Diop transferred to Loyola Marymount.

That left coach Hoiberg with six scholarship players after the portal season. Never fear though Husker fans because Coach Hoiberg was very active in the portal and was able to fill the roster using transfers who all fit in perfectly with the needs the Huskers had to address in the offseason.

Nebraska lost a ton of shooting and added some big-time shooters in the portal. Conner Essegian from Wisconsin is a knockdown shooter who had a huge freshman season at Wisconsin before seeing a diminished role this past season. Gavin Griffiths is a transfer from Rutgers who has a very high ceiling and is a good shooter even though his numbers didn't support that last season. The Huskers did have some returning shooting coming back with Brice Williams and to a lesser extent Juwan Gary.

The biggest flaw the Huskers had a season ago was their lack of a true point guard. Coach Hoiberg did have former Iowa point guard Ahron Ulis on the roster as he is finally eligible to return from his suspension for betting on games while at Iowa. Hoiberg was able to find his starter in the transfer portal in grad transfer Rollie Worster from Utah. Worster is a guy who is a pass-first point guard and is a stat sheet stuffer. He is a fantastic rebounder and can shoot enough to keep defenses honest. Worster doesn't need to score to impact the game and is a giant upgrade to the point guard position for coach Hoiberg. Worster is the best player that Nebraska has had at the position under Hoiberg.

Then there is the frontcourt which was a giant strength for Nebraska last year except for one problem. The depth was a huge problem as the year wore on and it was evident in the postseason. The hits to the frontcourt kept on coming as earlier this month it was announced that star big man Rienk Mast will miss the 2024-2025 season as he recovers from Knee surgery. Again never fear though because Nebraska will still be able to play 5-out and have added big-time depth in their front court so their starters do not have to play all of the minutes.

Andrew Morgan was the first addition in the transfer portal for coach Hoiberg. Morgan is a big man from North Dakota State who is a solid player who won't be a star but he is good enough in the paint to score double digits and he can hit threes at an efficient clip. Nebraska really lacked a defensive big man who could protect the rim and get a key rebound when they needed it. Nebraska got that with Braxton Meah, a big-man transfer from Washington. Meah takes all of his shots inside the paint, a lot of them are dunks, he rebounds well, and led the country in field goal percentage last year. The 7'1" center likely won't start but he is a good free throw shooter for a big man and is likely going to be a guy the Nebraska is going to use to close games out when rebounding and defense are ever more important.

Next. WTE Big Ten power rankings for 2024-25. WTE Big Ten power rankings for 2024-25. dark

There is no getting around it. The loss of Mast is going to hurt Nebraska a lot but the current roster they have is still a roster that can turn into a tournament team. The roles will need to be defined and it is going to be dependent on how all of the new pieces fit. The roster makeup is a type of roster that coach Hoiberg has won with before and nothing says this roster is not one that can win at least on paper. He did a fantastic job of filling the needs the team had through the portal and almost all of them have a ton of experience at the college level. Is 2025 finally the year the Huskers win an NCAA tournament game?