LINCOLN – If the referee had called the first foul, perhaps Quaran McPherson isn’t headed to Nebraska this June.
But he went up for a layup, got hacked — didn’t get the foul — went up for a basket again but landed awkwardly on his right leg.
“My dominant leg,” said Nebraska basketball’s newest commit.
Before the 6-foot-4, 180-pound guard tore his ACL, he preferred Pac-12 programs Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA. After the injury, those offers dried up.
McPherson — who initially played at Christ The King High School in Queens, New York — transferred to The Woodstock Academy in Connecticut last summer. But Woodstock chose not to play basketball immediately due to the pandemic, so McPherson left for Link Year School in Branson, Missouri.
The Ozarks, in winter.
"There wasn't much to do," McPherson said of his short stay in Branson. "I stayed inside a lot, just practicing, working on my game."
The work paid off. McPherson will be the last addition to Nebraska's 2021 roster after committing to the Huskers Monday morning.
The Huskers wanted to find a true combo guard who could play point, and McPherson, a three-star recruit who averaged nearly 20 points per game in Branson, fits the bill. He has a longstanding relationship with NU assistant Matt Abdelmassih, who started recruiting McPherson while he was at St. John's. McPherson also has a growing friendship with current Huskers Bryce and Trey McGowens.
"I can score from all three levels — 3, mid-range and at the rim," McPherson said. "I'm athletic — I'm still working on it — and I'm more athletic than I was before the knee injury."
McPherson becomes the latest addition to a Nebraska recruiting class that had already been rated in the nation's top 15. He'll join Bryce McGowens, Wilhelm Breidenbach and Oleg Kojenets as true freshmen. DePaul transfer Keon Edwards is essentially a 2021 prospect as well.
Nebraska followed McPherson's progress from Christ The King to Woodstock to Link Year. He said he'd been in contact with NU for a couple months. He hasn't visited Lincoln yet, but will arrive in June.
UConn, Auburn and others were involved in McPherson’s recruiting process recently, but the Huskers had a big lead.
"I feel like Nebraska is the best fit," McPherson said. "I think Coach (Fred) Hoiberg can help develop my game for the next level."
McPherson said he’s seeking to improve his defense.
“I gamble too much,” McPherson said. “And that can put my teammates in a bad position. I’m working on not taking the first steal opportunity.”
Nebraska has one scholarship open for the cycle but does not intend to fill it. NU players Kobe Webster and Trevor Lakes will not have their scholarships count toward the 13-man total next season because of the NCAA’s COVID-related eligibility allowances for seniors.