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2016-17 Nebraska Cornhuskers Preview: the Frontcourt

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What can we expect from Nebraska’s frontcourt next year?

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Nebraska vs Wisconsin Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into the upcoming season and it’s clear that Nebraska has lost plenty experience and leadership from last season (specifically Shavon Shields and Andrew White III). Long story short, the Cornhuskers will be young in 2016-17. The team has only one senior (Tai Webster) on one end and on the other, three freshmen and five sophomores.

Nebraska has been 6-12 and 5-13 the last two years in the Big Ten and will need contributions from the young talent in the upcoming season. Particularly, the frontcourt features great youth and potential but is still a potential work in progress.

The Cornhuskers out rebounded opponents last year by two (35.2 to 33.2 RPG), holding an edge on both the offensive and defensive glass. However, Shields (5.9 RPG) and White III (5.1 RPG) were actually the team’s leading rebounders and both departed after the past season. Let’s take a look at who’ll make up the Cornhusker frontcourt in 2016-17.

Michael Jacobson

A sophomore, Jacobson is the oldest and most experienced member of the Cornhusker frontcourt. Last season he averaged 18.3 minutes, 4.7 points and 4.3 rebounds a game.

He’ll get opportunities next season and will slide back to his more natural position (the four) with the signing of Jordy Tshimanga. According to Big Red Today, Jacobson’s pretty happy about moving back to a more comfortable position. At the end of the day he was undersized to play the five consistently and he’ll benefit playing in position this season.

Jacobson played admirably against bigger opponents, but getting Tshimanga will take the pressure off him on defense and it could mean good things for his offensive game as well.

Jordy Tshimanga

Tshimanga fills a major void for Nebraska. They lack size and depth along the frontline and as mentioned above, Jacobson can move back to his more natural position. So bringing Tshimanga aboard really solidifies two positions.

He’s young, though, but at 6’11”, 275 Tshimanga is physically ready for the Big Ten. It’ll be interesting to see whether he can stay on the floor consistently (defend without fouling), give the Cornhuskers some rim protection, rebound and score a bit around the rim. He can finish with power around the basket, he just needs to build from his potential this season.

Not likely that he’ll be a focal point of the offensive, but if he can give them significant minutes at center he’ll help solidify Nebraska’s frontcourt.

Jeriah Horne

In Horne, Nebraska landed a top-150 recruit from Kansas City, Missouri. To compare, Horne’s a slightly smaller, more mobile and athletic version of former Ohio State Buckeye Jared Sullinger. Like Tshimanga, Horne seems physically ready for the Big Ten. He can bang with fours, but he’s quick enough to pull larger defenders out to the perimeter. When opposing big men challenge his shot, Horne can also put the ball on the floor a bit.

He should really help Nebraska on the glass too. Not a huge area of weakness for them last season, but certainly it wouldn’t hurt to become more stout in that area. Especially with their top rebounders both departed.

Overall

Nebraska’s frontcourt will be young and there will be a learning curve. Tim Miles won’t have much of a choice but to play Tshimanga and Horne immediately. Jacobson ought to improve from year one to two, particularly now that he’s moving back to his natural position. Despite the youth, this unit is in better shape than last year. Nebraska has depth and options. Jacobson can also slide to the five in a pinch and play alongside Horne when need be.

Miles has energized the Nebraska program and he’s brought in young talent, particularly in the frontcourt. Now it’s time to see it on the floor.