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December 4, 2012Monday's home game against Southern Cal was the first opportunity for head coach Tim Miles and Co. to show 2013 New Zealand guard recruit Tai Webster what Nebraska basketball was all about.
Apparently the Huskers made the impression they had hoped.
Sources close to the program confirmed that Webster, who was in Lincoln for his official visit this weekend, signed and submitted his National Letter of Intent on Tuesday afternoon, officially making him the latest addition to the 2013 class.
"I'm excited to have Tai join us!" Miles said in a statement. "He is an excellent player who will thrive in our style of play and has high-level international playing experience which will help him acclimate to basketball in the U.S."
"There is no doubt he loved his visit to Nebraska and is excited about the team, our campus, our facilities and without question our fans! We look forward to Tai joining us next season and helping us build Nebraska basketball into a consistent winner."
He joins Wisconsin wing Nick Fuller and Texas guard Nathan Hawkins, but many are touting Webster as the big fish of the group.
While he remains unranked by Rivals due to his lack of exposure playing in New Zealand, his performance with the New Zealand national team during this summer's Olympic Trials has some calling him a Rivals150 quality prospect.
Few players in the world made as big of a leap onto the basketball scene as the 6-foot-3 Webster. After making the national team as a reserve, he eventually won a starting spot and ended up leading the team in scoring. His international debut came against Brazil, a squad featuring a number of NBA players, and he came off the bench to lead New Zealand with eight points on of 4-of-5 shooting in just 12 minutes.
His father, Tony Webster, said the experience Tai gained from playing against grown men on the international level, and having the success he did, helped his son reach a new level as a player.
"Oh definitely," Tony said. "After that, his confidence has grown tremendously. If you can be successful against men at this age, it can't do anything but help you get confidence. Confidence is all about playing basketball. If you believe you're going to be successful, then you are going to be successful. Coming back from that, he's just been unstoppable now."
Webster chose Nebraska over the likes of Virginia, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh, LSU, SMU, St. Mary's and several other schools.
Tony said Nebraska immediately appealed to his son both because of their relationship with NU assistant and Australia native Chris Harriman and the opportunity to play in the Big Ten, arguably the best basketball conference in the country.
"He can shoot the 3. He can penetrate. He's very quick getting to the basket," Tony said. "He has good vision on his passing. He needs to work on his defense a little bit more. That's one of his weaknesses, so he's been focusing on that a little bit.
"I just think he needs to be in an environment where there are a lot of very good players. At the moment, he's dominating out here in New Zealand, so he needs to be in an environment where he can develop more as a player and play with better competition."
The Huskers now have two open scholarships for the 2013-14 season. The next target on the list to keep an eye on is 6-9, 230, power forward Matthew Atewe of Notre Dame (Mass.) Prep. Nebraska offered him back in October and are hoping to get him on campus for an official visit soon.
He currently holds 12 Division-I offers from programs such as Kansas State, Marquette, Memphis, Auburn, Dayton, Clemson, Duquesne, Nevada and UNC-Charlotte. Other schools like Purdue and Butler have also shown interest.