As we inch ever closer to the basketball season, we continue to give you the preseason coverage you all keep visiting this basketball centric website for! Starting today we kick off the player profile series for our Nebraska Cornhuskers with the most familiar face to you all in yet another season of huge roster turnover: Thorir Thorbjarnarson.
You all know the God of Thunder came to Lincoln as an unique Tim Miles find from Iceland starting in the 2017 class. He was not heavily utilized as a player given his offensive skill set was not always the best fit for Miles’s system and there were a host of skilled upper-class men ahead of him in the rotation, but he was one of the best defenders on the team. After the coaching change there was talk of Thorbjarnarson being sent packing, but my were you wrong if you thought that.
Despite only averaging 2.0 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.2 assists on 33-percent shooting, he became a key cog for a stumbling Huskers squad when it mattered his sophomore season. Before the final eight games for the Huskers, Thor played 16 minutes or more just four times. After playing just four minutes against Michigan State, Thor saw 17 minutes against Iowa the following game, scoring 4 points, dishing 3 assists, 2 blocks (one on a potential game winning shot for Iowa), and a steal. In the ensuing run the Huskers had in the Big Ten Tournament and first round NIT win Thor provided a valuable contribution to the team both on and off the stats sheet.
In his junior season, he was the only player returning to the floor for Nebraska with any playing experience for the Huskers. While he was only the fourth leading scorer on the team with 8.8 points per game, he was a key contributor in minutes at 29.2 which was good for a 10th place tie in the conference.
Not only that, but he was a tough player as well with 4.8 rebounds per game, good for second best on the team and 20th best in the conference as well as 11th best in defensive rebounding in the conference. He also was tied for fourth on the team and 12th in the conference for assists with 1.3 per game, and tied for third in steals with 1.1.
Where Thorbjarnarson distinguished himself the most, however, was behind the three point line. The God of Thunder not only had the most three point attempts on the team (129), he was also the most elite shooter of anyone who took significant attempts at 37.2-percent. Thor also was eighth in the conference for three-point field goal average.
Defensively, Thor was a bright spot on a team that struggled on that end. He continued to excel at his assignments whether on the wing or down low. Our favorite Icelander is a hard worker on the court and has a strong basketball IQ overall. Don’t believe me? His game tape frequently features plays like this one:
That’s great for what he has been, but what about this season? Well, first off it is nice he was able to finally get to Lincoln after facing COVID-19 related delays returning to the states. The roster is once again almost completely turned over, and his role will be unclear until we get a feel for his teammates around him.
Having said that, expect Thor to continue to have improved his shot and game overall. Being a senior, it would be a pleasure to see him step up into a clear (to an outsider perspective that is) leadership role on the court and start to demand the ball more offensively.
Thorbjarnarson has the talent to score, but while he led the team in three point attempts last season he was not quite as volume of a shooter as perhaps he should have been given the teammates surrounding him. If he was able to put the time in to improve his accuracy, then Coach Hoiberg should certainly consider running a few more sets through him if possible.
With all that said above, I look forward to seeing what Thor has to show us in his final season with Nebraska. I think it promises to be his best yet, and I feel confident in predicting it will be enjoyable to watch. Best of luck to him both on the court, and off it as he seeks to repeat as a B1G Distinguished Scholar.