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Nebrasketball Player Profile: Wilhelm Breidenbach

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Freshman front-courter adds size, skill to squad

High School Basketball: Hoophall West Tournament Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

You’re gonna like Wilhelm.

Whether it’s the red rec specs, shaggy mop of hair, scraggly neckbeard, or the long and lanky 6-10 frame, it seems incoming true freshman forward Wilhelm Breidenbach is destined to become a fan favorite on looks alone.

So what exactly can you expect from him on the court? “Wilhelm brings a skillset that translates well to the up-tempo system we play,” Head Coach Fred Hoiberg noted on signing day back in November 2020. “He runs the floor well, has the ability to play inside and out, and is a physical player who can easily step out to the perimeter and stretch the defense.”

ESPN ranked Breidenbach as the 53rd-best player in the nation, which would have made him the highest-ranked high school recruit in Nebraska history if not for his new teammate, Bryce McGowens. 247Sports Composite slotted Wilhelm in at No. 90 overall.

Before arriving in Lincoln, Breidenbach played at high school hoops power Mater Dei in Santa Ana, CA. The then-6-foot-9, 210-pounder was leading the team to an undefeated season his senior year, averaging 15.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 2.8 assists through Mater Dei’s 24-0 start. Then, the first major injury of his career, a torn MCL. The Monarchs finished the season 3-4 in his absence.

Breidenbach just recently made it back to practicing close to full speed, having chosen to rehab the knee over surgery. “I’m still kind of getting my legs underneath me, still getting adjusted,” he said in late July.

Prior to his senior season, he averaged 11.9 points and 8.0 rebounds per contest as a junior, including 18 points and 14 boards against Sierra Canyon. Breidenbach piled up six double-doubles, and collected first-team All-Orange County honors, helping Mater Dei reach the regional semifinals in their 25-8 campaign.

His sophomore season ended in the CIF Southern California finals, as Breidenbach scored 12.4 points and grabbed 8.8 rebounds per game with ten double-doubles.

The consensus top-150 recruit has fit in well with his new Husker teammates thus far. “I’m used to playing with skilled guys,” Breidenbach said. “We’re with each other every day, going to eat, work out, whatever it is. It’s been pretty easy kind of having that support group around us.”

Breidenbach’s high school teammates included: Devin Askew, a 2020 5-star point guard who played last season at Kentucky but has since transferred to Texas; 6-foot-9 Aussie center Harrison Hornery, a 2021 USC enrollee; and 6-8, 210-pound forward Nick Davidson, who enrolled at Nevada with their 2021 class.

Marquette, Utah, Cal, Michigan were other schools Breidenbach listed as closest to earning his commitment. As Hoiberg’s first high school signee of the 2021 recruiting class, Breidenbach referenced the chance to learn from him as a big draw. “Playing for Coach Hoiberg made Nebraska very attractive. He was in the NBA for so long, which is my ultimate goal. I think he can help me get there.”

Player and coach definitely see eye-to-eye on Breidenbach’s best attribute. “One of the things that stands out when you watch him is his energy level he plays with,” Hoiberg noted on signing day. “He is relentless and is not afraid to make the hustle plays that help his team win.” The true freshman added, “The thing I pride myself on is playing from the start of the game to the end with hustle and energy.”

We’re 56 days away from the Nebrasketball exhibition opener against Peru State, and just 69 days (nice) from the regular season. Chin up, everyone. Football season will be over soon!