One hundred of the best high school basketball players in the country have gathered in Charlottesville, Va., this weekend for the NBA Top 100 Camp, and a handful of those players came in with heavy interest from Nebraska's coaching staff.
A total of four players with Nebraska offers are participating in the camp, which began Wednesday and runs through Saturday. The group includes point guard Mike Gesell of South Sioux City (Iowa), shooting guard Archie Goodwin of Sylvan Hills (Ark.), small forward Marcus Hunt of North Clayton (Ga.) and center Adam Woodbury of Sioux City East (Iowa).
There's also point guard Charles Mann of Milton (Ga.), who doesn't have an NU offer yet but has received interest from the Huskers.
What makes the camp different from others is the participants are hand selected by the NBA Players Association, and they are chosen because the NBAPA believes they are all legitimate professional talent.
Because of the NCAA recruiting calendar, college coaches are prohibited from attending. However, to even make the roster means players have already proven themselves as valuable commodities.
As a result, Nebraska is competing with some of the top programs in college basketball for the majority of the five players it's pursuing. Goodwin, who made the roster but is sitting out of the camp due to injury, is the No. 2 shooting guard in the nation and the No. 9 player overall, and every school from Kansas to UConn is interested in his services.
Woodbury is the 17th-ranked center in the country, and he has other offers from Stanford, Virginia, Xavier, California and Iowa as well as interest from North Carolina and Ohio State.
Hunt is the nation's 13th-ranked small forward and has at least 17 other offers along with Nebraska's, and Mann already has offers from the likes of UConn, Georgia Tech and several others.
However, there is one player who the Huskers have as good of a shot to land as anyone in Gesell. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Gesell is the No. 19 point guard in the country, and he holds offers from Stanford, Iowa, Creighton, Utah, Iowa State, Northern Iowa and others.
Being so close to Lincoln and already having taken a couple unofficial visits to NU, the Huskers are believed to be right near the top of Gesell's list heading into his senior season.
Rivals.com basketball recruiting expert Eric Bossi as been at the camp all week, and he's apparently liked what he's seen from Gesell going up against the best prep competition around.
"The more you watch this kid the more you appreciate what he does," Bossi wrote. "He never makes mistakes, is a pretty good defender and is beyond clever in getting his own offense. Because of his shooting ability, he gets crowded on the perimeter and he's figured out how to lose guys."
Talley fitting in at NU
Heralded junior college transfer Dylan Talley is settling in nicely since coming to Lincoln last week for the start of the first five-week summer session.
Along with taking his first class at UNL - Multicultural Education - Talley has been working out with his new teammates on a near daily basis in both the weight room and pickup games and shoot-arounds.
Talley has reportedly been dealing with a deep thigh bruise that has kept him from fully participating in team work outs. However, Talley, who was No. 6 scorer at the juco level last season at Blinn (Texas) College with 23 points per game, has still made quite the impression on his fellow Huskers.
"He's shown that he can hit the mid-range shot off the dribble or off the catch, and that's obviously a big part of our offense," junior forward Brandon Ubel said. "Especially for the guards coming off down screens, being able to hit those 10- to 15-foot jumpers is huge. He's also able to get into the lane off the dribble. He beats his man one-on-one and creates some help or if no one does help he's able to go through contact and finish. He'll definitely fit into the offense real well."
Ubel added that Talley coming to Lincoln early for the summer has shown the rest of his teammates his commitment to the program.
"It shows you a lot about what he's willing to do in terms of working hard and trying to get into shape and get ready for the season," Ubel said. "He's a player kind of similar to Caleb (Walker) in terms of size, athleticism, a slasher kind of guy, a really smart player who knows how in get to the lane and knows how to finish. He'll definitely be a welcomed addition, that's for sure."
Talley said he's already started to bond with the rest of the Huskers, saying he feels right at home at Nebraska both on the court and in the locker room.
"I like all my teammates," Talley said. "They're real cool. I see myself fitting in well with my new teammates. They all play hard and play good defense, and everybody shares the ball. I think we have a chance to pretty good this year if we keep working."
Ubel ready to step up
When Nebraska officially takes the floor together for the first time this fall, Ubel will find himself in a role he's never experienced as a Husker.
After senior guard Brandon Richardson, Ubel will be NU's next most experienced player in terms of career games played. That's why the Overland Park, Kan., native has already made it a point to step up his presence as a leader on the team.
"Me and the coaches have talked quite a bit about how I need to step up as a more vocal guy," Ubel said. "The past couple years, that wasn't part of who I was. I kind of need to change that if we're going to be successful. I have to hold guys accountable not just by leading by example, but little stuff like asking them if they want go shoot or play some one-on-one if they're just hanging out on an off day. When we're doing organized stuff, just staying in people's ear and helping them get better in practice. I'm just working to be more of that positive, vocal guy."
Part of assuming that role this summer has included helping get his teammates to start watching film of Big Ten Conference opponents on their own before officially doing it with the coaching staff.
As far as individually, Ubel said he's focusing getting into better shape by putting in more work than ever in the weight room with new basketball strength and conditioning coach Tim Wilson.
"I kind of changed a few things in terms of the way I'm eating and the way I'm approaching offseason workouts," Ubel said. "I'm putting in a little extra time in terms of getting shots up and working on my game. I've been doing all the stuff that we're doing with Coach Wilson with lifting and running, and I'm just trying to get my body into the best shape it can be come the start of the season."
Ubel also said he's been working heavily on his overall shooting, which he said was not where it needed to be last season. He averaged just 6.1 points per game in 2010-11, and while he shot 51.6 percent from the field, he was just 25 percent (7-of-28) from 3-point range.
"I'm trying to get my shot a little more consistent," Ubel said. "It kind of fell off this past year, so I'm putting up a ton of shots pretty much every day and also working on my post moves and getting those down to a point where I can shoot those almost in my sleep and know that they're going to go in."
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