After much waiting, Nebraska finally learned the fate of James Palmer Jr. and Isaac Copeland with regards to the NBA Draft, and the fate was perfect for the Huskers. Both Palmer and Copeland entered the draft without an agent, meaning they could return for their senior season if they decided to withdraw their name from the draft class.
Both players were vital members of Nebraska’s roster this past season, but if the Huskers had to pick one player to return, it’d be Palmer, the First Team All-Big Ten guard voted by the coaches, while receiving Second Team honors by the media.
Palmer averaged 17.2 points per game this past season, while doing a little bit of everything else with 4.4 rebounds per game and 3.0 assists per game. Palmer also got to the free throw line a Big Ten high 221 times, while managing to shoot 74 percent.
In the beginning of the season Palmer’s presence wasn’t felt nearly as much as it was later in the season, specifically during Big Ten play. Game after game when the Huskers needed to end a scoring drought or for someone to take over a game, Palmer would most likely be the guy to do it.
With the return of Palmer, Nebraska gets a much needed scorer back in their lineup, as well as a senior leader who has had experience in the NCAA tournament.
Then comes back another senior lead in Copeland, a transfer from Georgetown that was second in scoring on the team with 12.9 points per game, while also second in rebounding with 6.1 per game.
Copeland, much like Palmer, also came alive during Big Ten play, shooting over 40 percent from three point range during conference play. Much of his success can be contributed to his versatility, as in being a 6-foot-9 player that can drive and shoot. During Big Ten play Copeland was a mismatch for most teams on offense, really only struggling with the likes of Charles Matthews of Michigan and Vincent Edwards of Purdue.
Now that Copeland has also returned, Nebraska can continue their tall, yet athletic lineup for this upcoming season, one that many expect will be an NCAA tournament caliber season.
Glynn Watson Jr. will continue to play point, Palmer either coming in at shooting guard or small forward, and then Copeland and Isaiah Roby at the other two forward positions. Copeland’s presence allows Tim Miles to do whatever he wants with his starting lineup, whether he puts another guard in the lineup to stick with the long and athletic lineup, or put in another center to tower over teams with their height.
Without Palmer and Copeland, this team would most likely struggle a decent bit, as in not making the NCAA tournament once again. But now, this team has the possibility of receiving a preseason top 25 rank, with the talent of a Sweet 16 tournament team.
Whether Palmer and Copeland will make the NBA after their senior season remains to be seen, but they will try and make an everlasting impact for Nebraska basketball in their final season, with the hopes of advancing in the big dance.