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October 31, 2012The theme around Nebraska's recruiting since the day new head coach Tim Miles and Co. took over back in March has been to just get kids on campus to show them all that the program's future has to offer.
This past weekend, the Huskers got a nice jump on making some early impressions on a trio of 2015 Indiana prospects.
The group included 6-foot-8 power forward Liam Duncan of Carmel High School, 6-7 wing Ryan Welage of Greensburg High School, and 6-5 guard Tahjai Teague of Pike High School. All three were teammates on the Eric Gordon All-Stars 15U AAU team this past summer.
On the visit, which was orchestrated by NU assistant Chris Harriman, the players did the usual tour of the basketball facilities and campus and also got a chance to take in one of the Huskers' practices and meet with Miles and the rest of the staff. They capped the weekend off by going to the Nebraska-Michigan football game on Saturday night.
As could be expected, all three were blown away by the Hendricks Center practice facility and soon-to-be complete Pinnacle Bank Arena.
"Their facilities are, I mean, some of the best I've ever seen," Welage said. "It was really high tech and everything. Everybody had their own iPad, and they had the playbooks and scouting reports on them."
Said Teague: "Their facilities were wonderful. It was a great opportunity, because I had never seen a college campus like that before. It was a great experience."
Ranking right along with the facilities was the way the players were able to create an almost instant bond with Nebraska's coaches. Miles and his staff's laid-back approach to the visit and the way they handled practice impressed all three recruits in a big way.
"I was really impressed with the coaching staff and the facilities," Duncan said. "It just seemed like a very good atmosphere. With the coaching staff, I really liked how they coached in terms of the smart playing over the most athletic playing. At Carmel we do the same type of thing."
Welage said Miles didn't spend as much time trying to convince them to come to NU as he did making sure the up-and-coming prospects made sure they knew exactly how they would fit in with potential schools. Welage, who attended Indiana's Hoosier Hysteria event last week and has also visited Purdue and Evansville, was the only player of the three who had gone on an unofficial visit prior to coming to Lincoln.
"(Miles) actually gave us all three some advice about every time you visit, he said to look and see how you would fit in as a player and if you can work with the system and the coaches," Welage said. "Personally, when they broke down into group, I watched their wings a lot, and I thought if I did go there I would fit in as a wing. I've done some of the drills they've done, and I just really watched that and knew that's probably where I would go."
Other schools that have shown interest in Welage include Michigan and Indiana State, while Teague said he's been hearing from the likes of Indiana and Butler. Duncan is still relatively under the radar, but his AAU coach, Pat Mullin, said Duncan is quickly gaining attention, and at 6-8 has only scratched the surface in his physical development.
He played on the Carmel varsity squad as a freshman last season, and Mullin is already throwing out comparisons to another big man who put together a fairly decent college and NBA career.
"(Duncan) is one that has the most upside," Mullin said. "Liam's only been playing for two years, but he's kind of built like Cole Aldrich out of Kansas. He's got that body type, maybe even a little better at this age."
While none of the players received offers on the their visits, Nebraska jumped near the top of all three of their lists. Teague said he's still waiting to see how his recruitment plays out before naming the Huskers his favorite, but Welage and Duncan saw more than enough to rank NU among their favorites.
"They're probably at the top," Duncan said. "I'm really interested in the engineering program, and it looks like it has a lot of opportunities. Then the basketball program, obviously. It looks like a good place that I could fit in."
Welage agreed: "I think they're obviously right up there. I think Coach Miles is going to bring them up. I don't think they've been real competitive for a little bit, but I think they're actually going to come up and be competing with Purdue and IU in about two or three years. Personally, as far as my interest level, I like them a lot. I like their facilities and the coaches and just the atmosphere. I liked it all a lot.
"When we got the chance to go to the football game, they have some pretty dedicated fans down there. I really liked that. That's pretty important to me, is the fan base, and they have one of the best fan bases around."