LINCOLN — So much time had passed since Nebraska’s last normal offseason that Derrick Walker forgot how it’s supposed to look.
The junior forward remembered posing for team pictures in 2019, his first season at Nebraska. But the headaches caused by the 2020 season have warped his sense of routine.
Seeing Tuesday’s photo day on the schedule surprised Walker. And his eyes are still adjusting to the sea of students he walks past every day. But jarring as it may be, Walker is relieved that Nebraska has returned to a reliable schedule.
“Today is good fun,” Walker said. “We love times like this just taking pictures and being out (on the court) competing. There’s just a different energy and a different vibe to campus and to sports this year.”
Walker and his teammates saw that energy up close when they attended Nebraska football’s home opener against Fordham. Standing on the sideline amid a packed Memorial Stadium, Walker couldn’t help but picture how Pinnacle Bank Arena will look completely stocked.
Due to transfer rules, Walker watched from the bench the last time fans were allowed inside Nebraska’s gym. Two years later, he’s excited to introduce fans to his game.
“I want to put on a show for the Huskers,” Walker said. “The Huskers haven’t seen what I do. So it’ll be nice to play in front of a home crowd and just have that fan support.”
Some more happenings from Nebraska’s first media availability since the school year began:
Tominaga's jump shot
Ask any player about Keisei Tominaga, and you’ll hear about his jump shot.
Freshman guard Quaran McPherson stood a couple of steps behind the NBA 3-point line when asked about Tominaga’s range. Walker called Tominaga “a big problem.” And to hear Bryce McGowens tell it, “I think he’s got the best jump shot I’ve ever seen. No lie.”
Coach Fred Hoiberg set the bar high when he called Tominaga “the Japanese Steph Curry” in November, but Tominaga seems to be meeting expectations early. He can shoot off the dribble and move without the ball. He can make three, four, five shots in a row.
“He’s one of those guys where you can’t give him an inch of space,” Walker said.
Nebraska could use that after ranking 184th in 3-point percentage (33.3%) last season. Trey McGowens said he’s already noticed a difference in the Huskers’ floor spacing from a year ago.
Tominaga isn’t the only new shooter in town. Nebraska touts C.J. Wilcher and Bryce McGowens as deadeye newcomers, too. But nobody has raised eyebrows as high as Tominaga.
Few have appeared in as many Instagram stories, either. The Huskers have made it their mission to help Tominaga feel comfortable since he arrived from Japan three weeks ago.
The next step is to offer him a taste of home. Trey McGowens wants Tominaga to join him at Shogun, his favorite Japanese restaurant in town.
Bryce McGowens in mock drafts
Bryce McGowens is already cracking the lottery in NBA mock drafts. Michael Hopp of nbadraft.net projected McGownens 13th to the Indiana Pacers in his first 2022 mock draft.
On Tuesday, McGowens considered the projection “a blessing.” He turned the “Draft Dreams” tweet he sent during the 2021 draft into a poster, and it hangs in his dorm.
But McGowens also realizes that he has more to prove. The five-star freshman said his dreams have always involved playing college basketball, too. He felt chills walking through PBA earlier this week. He wants to “be a dog” and win the first NCAA tournament game in school history. And yes, eventually, he wants to play pro ball.
Until then, he has work to do.
“Just to be here, I feel like it’s one step closer to my main goal,” McGowens said.
Grill Master Webster
At Nebraska basketball cookouts, senior guard Kobe Webster is the grill master.
Webster prefers cooking steak, ribs and shrimp, but also he takes suggestions from his teammates.
“It’s all about the customer,” Webster said.
Webster seasons with Lawry’s Salt and lemon pepper. He adds tenderizer so the meat “doesn’t feel like you’re eating the sole of a shoe.” And he tops the meat with onions, which he knows is a controversial touch. “But if you’re not cooking with onions,” he says, “you probably can’t cook.”
“Onions are where all the flavor comes from,” Webster said. “That’s why they smell so bad. They have a lot of flavor and they give the food what it needs.”
Welcoming back fans
Nebraska will welcome fans back to PBA on Oct. 1 with a scrimmage, comments from coach Fred Hoiberg and, of course, a G Herbo concert.
Walker said he grew up listening to Herbo, Chief Keef and Lil Durk, three Chicago rappers who gained notoriety while Walker was in high school. And when Herbo performs in Lincoln next week, Walker knows what he wants to hear.
“All his old songs,” Walker said. “All the songs from before he made it. I feel like that was some of the best music he made.”
Videos: Get to know Nebraska men's basketball
Get to know the 2021-22 Nebraska men's basketball team.
Nebraska basketball's Trey McGowens "intense practices days in and day out"
Nebraska basketball's Lat Mayen "despite roster changes, the work ethic is still the same"
Nebraska basketball's C.J. Wilcher on what drew him to Nebraska
Nebraska basketball's Wilhelm Breidenbach thinks he can contribute immediately
Bryce McGowens on being Nebraska basketball's first five-star recruit
Husker men's basketball players talk teammates' roles
Derrick Walker on his leadership role and teamwork
Keon Edwards on basketball I.Q. and Big Ten competition