MINNEAPOLIS - With essentially every high-major head and assistant coach once again gathered around the court to watch 2014 Texas Select center Myles Turner in action on the second day of the NY2LA Spring Extravaganza on Saturday, it was hard to think Nebraska would stand much of a chance with the 6-foot-11 four-star prospect against some of elite programs.
However, don't rule the Huskers out just yet.
HuskerOnline.com caught up with Turner at Hopkins High School to see where exactly Nebraska stood on his increasingly growing list of schools. From the sounds of things, NU remains in a pretty good spot as the 2013 spring AAU season gets underway.
Turner, who just wrapped up his junior season at Euless Trinity (Texas) High School, has seen his stock skyrocket as much as any player in the country this year. But even though he's now up to 25 scholarship offers from schools such as Texas, Baylor, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, UCLA, Miami, Creighton and Oregon State, Turner said he's definitely still considering Nebraska on the same level as every other school.
"I am so wide open right now, I haven't cut any colleges out," Turner said. "I'm just waiting for things to come to me at this point. So yeah, they're definitely sill in the running."
At this time last year, Turner was an unranked three-star who didn't play at all during the AAU season because of a broken ankle he suffered last spring. After a big junior year at Euless Trinity where he averaged around 14 points, 9.8 rebounds and six blocks per game, including several games with 10 or more blocks, Turner has emerged as one of the more high-profile big men in the 2014 class. He's now a four-star prospect and ranked No. 78 in the Rivals150 for 2014.
One of the biggest things working in the favor of Nebraska's coaching staff is that head coach Tim Miles and assistant coach Craig Smith were some of the first to show interest in Turner, well before a recent growth spurt and more focused strength and conditioning helped catapult him up the 2014 rankings. When Miles and Smith moved on to NU, they didn't wait long to officially extend an offer to Turner last summer.
Since then, Turner said the coaches have been down to Dallas to see him play several times over the past year, and the staff has been in "constant contact" with him ever since.
"They were actually one of the first three (schools) to start talking to me," Turner said. "Since the summer of my freshman year, really. That means a lot."
Turner said he plans to start cutting down his list of schools towards the end of the summer AAU season and hopefully get at least a couple official visits scheduled before the start of his senior year. The good news for Nebraska is, as of now, Turner said he's working on setting up a trip to Lincoln for some time in late July or early August.
Though he's never been to Nebraska's campus, he said the idea of Midwestern life is actually pretty appealing.
"Nebraska, really, I just like the state as it is," Turner said. "I mean, it's real calm and relaxed. Just the whole atmosphere, I like it a lot."
As for what he's looking for most in his future college, Turner said more than anything it was to have a very close bond with his coaches and teammates on and off the court.
"I've been real close with my family all my life, so with my teams in the future, I want us to be real close and a real tight circle," Turner said. "There has to be a family structure. That's really big."
Huskers keeping an eye on 2014 point guard Bartley
After Miles checked out the talent at the NY2LA Spring Extravaganza on Friday night, director of basketball operations and interim assistant Jayden Olson took over on Saturday and watched a number of 2014, 2015 and 2016 prospects.
One player Olson watched in particular was 2014 point guard Marcus Bartley of the Peoria Irish (Illinois). At 6-4 with with a long frame, Bartley is one of the more intriguing point guards in his class and is steadily showing up on the radars of high-majors schools around the Midwest.
The three-star prospect from Decatur, Ill., just picked up an offer from new Northwestern coach Chris Collins and already had an offer from Oklahoma State and a number of mid-majors like Bradley, Illinois State, Eastern Illinois and South Dakota State.
Along with Nebraska, he's been getting a lot of interest from the likes of Iowa State, Illinois, Saint Louis and Stanford.
Bartley averaged 16 points, five rebounds and five assists as a junior last year at MacArthur (Ill.) High School, and has been praised for his great court vision and natural scoring ability.
There's a good reason why the Huskers have taken a long look at Bartley, too, as he's been compared to former Colorado State standout point guard Dorian Green.
Iowa power forward Schlatter on NU's radar
One of the first games of the day Olson watched was the Iowa Barnstormers versus the Wisconsin Playmakers, and it was mostly to see 2014 power forward Casey Schlatter of Iowa Falls, Iowa.
At 6-9, 200, Schlatter is a three-star prospect who's picked up offers from Creighton, Drake, North Dakota and Rice and garnered interest from a number of high-majors, including Iowa, Iowa State, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Tulsa.
Schlatter showed very good range from the perimeter and was very active on the defensive end, but with his long and lean frame, he wasn't the most physical big on the court by any means. He also said he wants to start taking visits after the AAU season wraps up at the end of the summer, and that Nebraska was definitely a school he was interested in seeing.
Nebraska getting a jump on two 2015 targets
While the 17-under teams were the main attraction this weekend, many coaches also made sure to check out some of the younger teams also playing in the Spring Extravaganza.
Two players Nebraska watched in particular were 2015 targets Kevin Puryear of KC Run GMC (Kansas) and Cody Schwartz of the Wisconsin Blizzard, both of which were playing in the 16U field.
Puryear is a 6-7, 205, power forward from Blue Springs, Mo., who is quickly emerging as one of the top 2015 big men in the Midwest. He currently holds offers from Creighton and Miami (Ohio), but has been getting heavy interest from schools like Missouri - which he unofficially visited in January - Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Marquette, Wichita State and Arkansas.
Schwartz is a 6-8 power forward from De Pere, Wis. He's a little more under the radar, but he's still getting some high-majors to take notice with his play so far.
Schwartz holds offers from Creighton, Green Bay and Northern Iowa, and he's seen interest from Iowa State, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Schwartz unofficially visited Wisconsin and Iowa State this past fall.
Around the rim
***Even though it was the first big Saturday of the NCAA evaluation period, Miles was back home in Lincoln for the day and not on the recruiting trail. Turns out he had a pretty good reason. Miles' family all came to town to celebrate his son Gabriel's confirmation ceremony. It's still unclear whether he will go back on the road on Sunday for the final day of the first evaluation period.
***Though Miles was home, his staff was once again out in full force on Saturday. Smith spent the day in Los Angeles again at the Nike EYBL Session I, and he was joined by fellow assistant Chris Harriman. Smith will fly down to Texas to check out some tournaments in Texas on Sunday, and there's a chance Olson will head out to Las Vegas.
***Nebraska wasn't able to see one of its top 2014 recruits this weekend in KC Run GMC power forward Tory Miller, who didn't make the trip to Minneapolis because he is still back at New Hampton (N.H.) Prep finishing up his spring semester. Miller, a three-star prospect who visited NU last summer, reclassified from the 2013 class to 2014 this past fall in an effort to bolster his recruitment.