Husker football is about to start. What better time to preview another player from Fred Hoiberg’s squad! This week we will be looking at sophomore forward Akol Arop.
Arop, originally from Egypt, attended Creighton Prep for high school, so the Huskers naturally wanted to land the 6-foot-5 prospect. While the only competition the Huskers had for him was San Diego, Drake, UAB, and a couple others, the three-star was a nice grab in the 2018 class.
Arop was a three-time All-State honoree in his time at Prep, where the team only had 10 total losses his last three years. As a senior, Arop averaged 19.4 points on 62% shooting, while also grabbing 10.9 rebounds and blocking 2.6 shots per game. The Gatorade Player of the Year in Nebraska that season, Arop had 19 double-doubles in 27 games, as well as a pair of 30-point performances.
Coming into his freshman year at Nebraska, Arop was one of the lengthier players on Hoiberg’s makeshift squad. He was pressed into action for 21 games, where he averaged a little over five minutes per game. While that isn’t a lot of time to accomplish much or accumulate any stats, he shot 56% and had six blocks.
He even showed an ability to shoot from deep, albeit hitting just one shot on two attempts. That is something he struggled with in high school, where he shot an abysmal 28% on three-pointers. I’m sure that has been a key emphasis for Fred, who wants everyone on the floor to be able to stretch the floor.
While traditionally a forward, Arop is lanky and athletic enough to play up a little bit. He has a wingspan over 6-foot-8 and a standing vertical around 35.5 inches. This is seen in his shot-blocking ability flashing in high school and limited college appearances.
Even better news for Hoiberg and Arop’s ability to contribute is what he has done in the offseason. Beside switching his jersey number (from 0 to 33), Arop has bulked up and added 13 pounds of muscle. Combining the strength addition and whatever Hoiberg’s remedy is for better three-point shooting, Arop has an opportunity to be a nice athletic forward off the bench.
With the injection of so many other talented JUCO and transfer players this year, it may be hard for Arop to crack a major part of the rotation this year. But he will get playing time and will be far less raw when he does. Hopefully, he takes every opportunity to get himself as part of the regular platoon.
At the very least, he could win a Nebrasketball dunk contest.