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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Jan. 26, 1999)
Make it two in a row for
Nebraska center Venson Hamilton.
Hamilton was named the Big 12’s
player of the week for the second
straight week after averaging 17
points and 13.5 rebounds in wins
over Oklahoma and Colorado.
It looks like Missouri did just
about every team in the Big 12
Conference by defeating Kansas 71 -
63 on Sunday in Lawrence, Kan. KU
lost its first conference game of the
season and now is in a tie with Texas
for the conference lead and several
other teams are within in striking
“You try to take care of your own
business, but it was KU’s first loss of
the year,” Texas Tech Coach James
Dickey said. “It’s got to be hard for
Kansas to replace four great play
Oklahoma State on hard times?
After OSU’s second conference
loss, this time to Texas, Texas A&M
Coach Melvin Watkins said the pre
season favorite in the Big 12 is hard
ly in trouble.
“They're in good shape,”
Watkins said. “Any time you get in
conference, you’re going get some
losses. We’re still worried about
It was Watkins' team that won its
first conference game on Saturday
on a buzzer-beater against Baylor,
setting off a celebration that rivaled a
“You'd have thought we won the
national championship,” Watkins
Only two teams from the Big 12
remained ranked in Associated Press
Top 25. Kansas, after losses in two
of its last three games, is No. 20,
while Oklahoma State is still in at
The rookie of the week was
Missouri forward Keyon Dooling.
Dooling, who was rumored to be
leaving the Tigers because of clashes
with MU Coach Norm Stewart, had
15 points Sunday against Kansas.
“There are going to be days
when freshmen play well, but
they’re going to have their ups and
downs,” said Kansas State Coach
Tom Asbury, who said Dooling has
great potential. “1 don’t know if
there are any freshmen who don't
After starting the conference
season 4-0, Oklahoma has lost two
in a row, and they haven’t been all
that close. OU lost to Nebraska 96
81, then to Kansas State 66-51.
OU Coach Kelvin Sampson his
team had become somewhat accus
tomed to being a ranked team.
“For the past couple of years, we
had been gutter rats, sort of like
junkyard dogs,” Sampson said.
“We’ve got some guys that like
being on that pedestal now, but we
can’t forget how we got there.”
Big 12 Notebook was com
piled by senior editor Sam
NU faces questions in recruiting
Doubts surround Hustlers’
dedication to in-state talent
Editor’s note: This is the second in a
three-part in-depth look at the status of
the Nebraska men's basketball team,
both where it has improved and current
problems surrounding the team. Today,
the focus is on in-state recruiting.
By Darren Ivy
Senior staff writer
In a perfect world, Nebraska Men’s
Basketball Coach Danny Nee wouldn’t
be forced do what he has to do each year.
He wouldn’t have to recruit. Or at
least he wouldn’t have to work as hard at
it as he says he does.
In a perfect world. Nee wouldn't
even be die coach at NU. He’d coach at
Kansas or UCLA or Kentucky where he
could drop the name, and players imme
diately would listen.
Or he d —
coach at I
DePaul or I
Temple or St. |
John s, some
in the inner
In a per
scan the lists
of top players
in the country
and pick and
uation is naraiy pertect. He coacnes at a
university where football is first. He
coaches on a campus that doesn’t have a
lot of diversity. He coaches at a school
that lacks basketball tradition.
And so Nee and his staff have grown
accustomed to the word “no.”
“Duke selects and Nebraska
recruits,” Nee said. “We recruit more
kids who say, ‘no thank you, no thank
you.’ They won’t even return our phone
“But we keeping knocking on those
doors because we have to find the right
marriage or combination of these play
ers in the positions we do; and then have
character, academics and athletic ability
to come here and fit. That whole thing is
And considering that, Nee’s done
well. His recruiting ability hasn’t really
ever been challenged, and it’s usually
praised. He’s found hidden gems like
Tyronn Lue and Enc Piatkowski. He got
Venson Hamilton out of high-school
power Oak Hill Academy. And while
some may have doubted Jaron Boone’s
and Erick Strickland’s desire, few ques
tioned their talents.
But there are those within the
Nebraska high school basketball com
munity, both coaches and parents, who
question Nee’s commitment to talent
from the Nebraska high school system.
Only one scholarship player on NU’s
roster, Andy Markowski, is from the
Comhusker state. Some think it’s hurt
ing the team.
But outside the state, these other
players have contributed and some
times started, at other Division I
schools. The Daily Nebraskan found at
least 15 players who played Nebraska
high school basketball and are currently
at other schools. One, Alvin Mitchell,
transferred from Nebraska after his
For his part, Nee contends high
school basketball talent in Nebraska
isn’t very good right now. The talent
level, Nee said, has been in a downward
cycle since 1992-93, when in-state play
ers Andre Woolridge, Terrence Badgett
and Strickland all chose to play for NU.
Woolridge later transferred to Iowa.
“I would love to have 13 players
from the state of Nebraska,” Nee said.
“A couple 6-foot-10 guys, a couple
point guards like Tyronn Lue, someone
with the tenacity of Beau Reid, and the
well-rounded play of a Brian Carr.”
Nee claims these players aren’t in
Nebraska. To fill the void, Nee has went
outside the state to find players.
NU’s most recent recruiting class,
which Nee calls one of his best, features
two junior college players from
I ( S t e f o n
I Bradford and
jjjj D a n n y
have a natural
base is the
Nebraska ... Outside ot Lincoln, (ath
letes) all play two or three sports.
“When you go to other metropolitan
areas, kids singularly play one sport.
They concentrate on basketball, so their
skills are better. Then there is a numbers
game. When you go to concentrated
areas such as Chicago, where there are
millions of players, there’s more
chances of getting a kid to come to
But there are those who know bas
ketball who feel Nee is overlooking
very good players right here. Rick
Collura is one who believes that.
High school perspective
There is some truth to the numbers
game Nee refers to, said Collura, who
won five state championships at
Lincoln Northeast from 1994-98 and
retired afterward. But that doesn’t mean
the state is devoid of talent, he said.
“When you do get the top-notch
players in Nebraska, because of the pop
ulation base, you have to keep them in
the state,” said Collura, who coached
two players, Alton Mason and Mike
Hahn, who currently play Division I
“You always hate to see good ones
get away. You can’t afford to do that con
sistently and have a fan base.”
Omaha Benson Coach Terry
Shelsta agrees. Shelsta won the state
title in 1992 and coached Woolridge and
former NU center Dave Hoppen,
arguably two of the top players to ever
come out of the state.
“The state has produced, is produc
ing and will continue to produce,
Division I players,” Shelsta said. “They
are fewer and far between, but obvious
ly they are out there.”
Home-grown, but not in-state
The following players are from the state of Nebraska,
but are at other Division I programs around the country.
Name Yr. High School Pts/Reb College
Mike Preston Fr Omaha Westside 5.3/3.3 Pacific
Dan Masters Fr. Plattsmouth 3.2/2.1 Pacific
Mike Hahn Fr. Lincoln Northeast 37/3.0 Pacific
MikeBargen Sr. Lincoln East 12.1/57 Marquette
Ben Ebong Sr. Omaha Burke 12.5/6.6 Davidson
Jason Richey GR Omaha Burke 17.3/3.9 San Diego St
Alton Mason So. Lincoln Northeast 77/2.9 Arizona St.
Alvin Mitchell Jr. Omaha Burke 67/2.1 Cincinnati*
T.J. Pugh Sr. Creighton Prep 4.2/4.0 Kansas
Dusty Dubbs Jr. Ralston 9.4/47 South Alabama
Derek Kruse Jr. Fremont 3.3/27 Come&
Shaun Gee Jr. Grand island 18.1/6.9 Dartmouth
Josh Meyer Fr. Omaha Roncai 5.8/19 Brown
Jesse Wood Fr. Chadron 3.2/1.0 Brown
Brent Klaussen Fr. Ktmbafl 1.7/1.0 Bowling Green
John Beerbohm Fr. Fairbury 4.972.4 Boston Coliege
Othello Meadows GR Creighton Prep 117/4.3 East Carolina
'Transferred from Nebraska GR- graduated last year
LINCOLN EAST FORWARD Shawn Redhage will sign with Arizona State, not
Nebraska out of high school. Some coaches question NO Coach Danny Nee’s
commitment to in-state talent.
Collura said Nee has ignored the
success of the Nebraska Basketball
Developmental Program, sponsored by
Valentino’s, which takes the best players
from Nebraska nationwide to compete
against other high-quality teams.
The lack of interest in both this pro
gram, and high school basketball as a
whole, will undermine recruiting in
Nebraska in the future, Collura said.
“It’s created a snowball effect,”
Collura said. “It can work the other way,
too. You find one stays, then two stay
and three. Talent comes in spurts.”
Nee said the departure of Assistant
Coaches Jeff Smith and Gary Bargen,
both Nebraska natives, in 1995 may
have affected some relationships with
high school coaches. But Nee said he’s
been at NU for 13 years and knows the
Whatever the case, Markowski and
Mitchell are the only two in-state schol
arship players to don NU uniforms in
four years. That, of course, will change
next season. Markowski won’t be there.
While some Nebraska players have
received little attention by the NU
coaching staff, they have flourished
Most notable of that group are Mike
Bargen, who is Marquette’s leading
scorer at 12.1 points per game; T.J.
Pugh, who plays for Kansas, Jon
Beerbohm, who plays at Boston
College, and Mason, who starts at
Shaun Gee, a forward at Dartmouth,
actually has the best numbers, averaging
18.1 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.
Nee said all these players, except
Gee, were evaluated closely by him and
his staff. Pugh was the only one who
was heavily recruited. It’s nothing
against the players in the state, Nee said.
“I agree there have been 15 Division
I players, but I would rate Nebraska as a
high Division I. We can debate if there
were five high Division I players.
“I would say T.J. Pugh, Mike
Bargen, Alvin Mitchell. And then you’ll
have to help me.”
NU Athletic Director Bill Byrne
said he hasn’t heard any complaints
about Nee's lack of in-state recruits.
Byrne also doesn’t force coaches to
recruit particular athletes.
“I encourage them to take the best
Please see RECRUIT on 8
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