Published Monday, October 21, 2013 at 12:09 pm / Updated at 9:38 am
'Sky is the limit' for latest Husker commit Pinder

LINCOLN — Often in recruiting, it's not what you know but who you know.

Go back to the first season that Nebraska basketball assistant coach Chris Harriman played professionally in his native Australia. One of his teammates — former North Carolina State player Kendal Pinder — was nearing the end of his career.

Harriman took note of Pinder's son, Keanu, and his athleticism at an early age, and kept in touch.

That longtime connection paid off late Sunday night when Keanu Pinder, a 6-foot-8, 200-pound forward, committed to Nebraska for 2015.

Pinder will play this season and the next at Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita, Kan.

Interest in Pinder among other schools zoomed when he arrived in Wichita in late summer and college coaches visited workouts, Sunrise coach Kyle Lindsted said Monday.

“I'm not going to say who all came in and wanted him,” Lindsted said. “That's kind of throwing guys under the bus. They all knew things were moving along with Nebraska, so a lot of them said if things don't work out there, let us know.”

Other sources said Indiana coach Tom Crean, Louisville coach Rick Pitino and Minnesota coach Richard Pitino were among those seeking more information on Pinder.

“He could be a big, big player for Nebraska,” Lindsted said. “The sky is the limit for him with his athleticism and background.”

Pinder's father, a native of the Bahamas, was a 1979 fifth-round NBA draft choice of the Atlanta Hawks out of North Carolina State. He later played for the Harlem Globetrotters, and on a trip to Australia signed with a professional team in Perth, where Keanu grew up.

Besides Nebraska, Keanu Pinder had offers from Auburn, New Mexico and St. Mary's, with other bigger names trying to get into the mix.

“He is really athletic, a good shooter for his size and is an excellent rebounder with his length,” Lindsted said. “He's got to get stronger around the rim — he's fine above the rim — but we've done a good job here of getting guys ready to move on.”

Recent Sunrise Academy players now in college include Iowa center Gabe Olaseni, Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield and Miami power forward Raphael Akpejiori.
Pinder, after clearing up academic issues in the next two years at Sunrise, will arrive at Nebraska at age 20 and with four years of eligibility.

He is the first commitment for the Class of 2015. Nebraska has one commitment for 2014 from 6-10 Jacob Hammond of Duncan, Okla.

The Huskers had hoped to sign three players in the November early period. They are still interested in Deng Deng, a 6-8 forward from Lee (Texas) Community College. Deng is an Australian citizen after having lived in Sudan and Egypt. He has offers from Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Arizona State, Washington State and Utah.

Contact the writer: Lee Barfknecht    |   402-444-1024    |  

Lee Barfknecht has won nine national writing awards from four separate organizations, and is a 12-time winner of the Nebraska sportswriter of the year award. He covers Big Ten football and basketball, Nebraska basketball and other college financial issues for The World-Herald.



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