basketball Edit

Why Bryce McGowens picking Nebraska is a big, big deal

Nebraska basketball made history on Friday when 2021 Greenville (S.C.) Legacy Early College guard Bryce McGowens committed and signed with the Huskers.

Rated the No. 23 overall player in the '21 class, McGowens became the NU's first five-star and highest-rated high school commit of the Rivals era (2002-present).

But the significance goes well beyond a boost in Nebraska's 2021 team recruiting ranking. Here are three reasons why...

A five-star rated the No. 23 player in the country, Bryce McGowens became the highest-rated commit in Nebraska history.
A five-star rated the No. 23 player in the country, Bryce McGowens became the highest-rated commit in Nebraska history.

College basketball is looking at Nebraska a little differently now

As the only power conference team never to win a single NCAA Tournament game, Nebraska has long been a punching bag of sorts in the national college basketball scene.

McGowens won't even arrive on campus until 2021, but his addition - paired with all of the other work head coach Fred Hoiberg and his staff have done in overhauling the roster - changed that perception.

Schools at the bottom of the totem pole aren't supposed to land five-star recruits. They certainly aren't supposed to get players who were heavily pursued by bluebloods like Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, Arizona, Oregon, and others.

You can chalk it up to the Huskers just getting lucky enough to already have McGowens' older brother, Trey, on the roster to help seal the deal. That was a major factor, no question.

But Nebraska doesn't get Trey McGowens, a four-star top-100 recruit in his own right, without having a real vision with a bonafide coach guiding the way. The same can be said for all the other transfers that come to Lincoln from perennial NCAA Tournament contenders.

The revamped perception won't last long if the Huskers don't start winning within the next few years. But right now, people around the country are looking at what Hoiberg has built over just two recruiting classes a little differently.

NU's 2021-22 roster could be really good

Landing Bryce McGowens is exciting enough for Nebraska fans. But think about the team he could potentially be joining when he's added to the mix in 2021-22.

The Huskers are only set to lose two seniors, Kobe Webster and Thorir Thorbjarnarson, from this season's roster. If they can retain their core rotation, which is already a veteran group, next year could be the deepest and most talented roster NU basketball has seen in decades.

And it will be adding a five-star combo guard in McGowens, arguably the best 3-pointer shooter in the JUCO ranks in Keisei Tominaga, and a Rivals150 power forward/center in Wilhelm Breidenbach.

Assuming Nebraska's current players are able to develop at the rate the coaching staff hopes, Year 3 under Hoiberg could be something special. It wouldn't be a stretch to say the Huskers might be a preseason top-25 team in '21-22.

There could be an immediate recruiting ripple effect

Before Friday, there was a narrative out there that Hoiberg was only interested in the transfer market and didn't prioritize high school recruits like other programs.

To be fair, the two roster flips over the past year and a half have definitely backed that up.

But now Nebraska just landed one of the most coveted high school prospects in the country and got him to sign in the fall. This wasn't a deal where McGowens was scrambling to find a new school after a late de-commitment in April.

He had his pick of the best programs in the country, and he chose the Huskers before playing a game of his senior high school season.

Basketball recruiting is a small world, especially with the elite level recruits on the top AAU circuits. Kids talk, as do high school and AAU coaches.

When a player of McGowens' profile picks a school like Nebraska, people take notice. Especially younger recruits who are also being recruited by the Huskers.

When Hoiberg or ace recruiter Matt Abdelmassih call up their top 2022, '23, and even '24 targets now, their pitch is going to carry a little more weight. If they can find a way to add some on-court success, those conversations will change entirely.