When Tom Osborne was searching for a new head basketball coach in the waning days of the winter of 2012 many speculated the hot shot turning his Ohio Bobcats into the toast of the NCAA tournament was the front runner to land the job. We are left to speculate whether or not he was interviewed, much less interested because he didn't make it to Lincoln.
Why was he thought to be so highly coveted?
Chicago. The Windy City is known as a hotbed of high school hoops. This up-and-comer was well known and well liked among the Chicago prep ranks and was surely just what Nebraska needed to make inroads in such fertile ground. On the afternoon of Friday, March 23, 2012 Nebraska announced the hiring of their new head coach. Eight hours later, the Ohio Bobcats took the court vs. #1 seed North Carolina in the Sweet Sixteen, head coach still in place.
Fast forward thirty months and the Huskers have made those inroads into Chicago under the direction of that new head coach. And while his former team did wear green, he came from Fort Collins, CO, not Athens, OH. Tim Miles has signed the first two Rivals Top 150 players in program history. It enters the short list in the conversation of best classes in program history.
The Huskers venture into Chicago began almost immediately once Miles was hired, though the results weren't necessarily immediate. Miles first brought with him from Colorado State Ron Coleman. His ties to Chicago prep hoops and the prestigious Mac Irvin Fire AAU program were no small reason why. However, Coleman was not given an assistant coaching position which meant he would not be allowed to go out on the road to recruit on Nebraska's behalf under NCAA rules. Before the 2012-13 season even began, Coleman took an assistant job at Bradley. Miles hired Ben Johnson and along with the rest of the staff Chris Smith and Chris Harriman, they continued to work on recruiting the Windy City.
Now with Johnson and Smith also having moved on, NU realizes the fruits of those efforts. Adding Jim Molinari this offseason didn't hurt with his more than 30 years in coaching in and around the Great Lakes region should continue to help the Huskers reap the rewards of seeds sown over the past couple of years.
Glynn Watson and Ed Morrow Jr., both four-star players, inked their letter of intent to play for Nebraska. The Chicago duo will combine to add some much-needed depth to the Husker roster to areas that the Huskers have been lacking.
Watson, a 5' 11" 160 pound point guard isn't thought to be a big time scorer, though he's capable. He is considered an intelligent point guard who is good at pressuring the ball on defense and handling it well on the offensive end with a knack of finding his teammates and putting them in a great position to score.
Morrow, an athletic 6' 7", 210 pound power forward, who has soft hands, noted for his high energy, work ethic and soft hands with the ability to finish at the rim. The son of former Husker athletes Edward, a linebacker on the 1994 national championship football team, and Nafeesha Morrow, a former standout on the women's basketball team, averaging more than a double-double her senior year, he will come to Lincoln with a firm grasp on all things Huskers.
Joining the Chicago duo is Michael Jacobsen, a 6' 8" power forward Waukee, IA. Jacobsen, also a standout football star, turned down instate Iowa State to join the Huskers. The first to commit to NU averaged nearly a double-double in his junior season at Waukee High School.
When you include Andrew White III, a former top 50 recruit and transfer from Kansas, who has to sit out this year per NCAA rules, this could be the most talented crop of incoming players Nebraska has had in nearly 25 years. Currently, the trio (sans White) ranks as the 28th best class, and fifth best in the Big Ten according to Rivals. The Huskers have one more scholarship to fill in this class and are expected to pursue a JUCO or transfer that can help in the paint. NU has commitments from Isaiah Roby for the 2016 class and Omaha South sophomore Aguek Arop for 2017.
While those classes seem to be off to a good start, expect the Huskers to continue to mine Chicago for talent.