As the 2010s draw to a close, many people have spent the last few weeks reflecting on the decade that was.
In the spirit of nostalgia, The Daily Nebraskan is looking back at some of the all-decade teams from various Husker athletic programs. Nebraska basketball, the featured all-decade team in this piece, has had a tumultuous decade.
The beginning of the decade was marked by change. Nebraska basketball started playing in the Big Ten, leaving the Big 12 after conference realignment threw nearly every NCAA conference into chaos. In 2012, the Huskers moved into a brand new Pinnacle Bank Arena and hired Tim Miles (the coach Nebraska fired for Miles, Doc Sadler, is back as an assistant under current head coach Fred Hoiberg).
The majority of the decade, and Miles’ tenure, was filled with disappointment and missed expectations. Miles brought a strong 2013-14 group to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998, but the No. 11-seeded Huskers lost to No. 6 Baylor in the first round.
Nebraska went through a funk after that despite returning a solid group of players from the 2013-14 team, as Miles was unable to lead the Huskers to a winning season until 2017-18. The 2017-18 squad not only won, but they also won frequently en-route to a 22-11 record.
Nebraska lost in the first round of the 2018 NIT that season, a tournament Nebraska would participate in the following season after injuries and inconsistent play derailed the 2018-19 campaign. That season was Miles’ last in Lincoln, and the school hired former Iowa State and Chicago Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg to replace him.
The Huskers are entering the new decade in a similar way to how they entered the last, with a lot of change and a whole lot of hope for the future. Even though the 2010s failed to see the Huskers become the last Power Five team to win a game in the NCAA Tournament, the Huskers did have several great players take the court over the last 10 years.
Let’s take a look back at Nebraska basketball’s all-decade team of the 2010s. And in the spirit of Hoiberg, I’m rolling out a small-ball starting five that would be able to outpace Big Ten opponents with ease.
Point Guard: Glynn Watson Jr. (2015-2019)
Watson Jr. is the easy choice to be this squad’s primary ball-handler, as the 6-foot Bellwood, Illinois native tore up the Big Ten on both ends of the floor during his four years in Lincoln.
A four-star recruit and consensus top-100 player in the 2015 class by multiple recruiting services, Watson Jr. had the trust of head coach Tim Miles from the moment he stepped foot on campus. Watson Jr. played a school-record 134 games, starting 113 of them.
Watson Jr. was a dynamic player for the Huskers who could burn opposing teams by either scoring 20 points or dishing 10 assists. As a true scoring and assisting threat, Watson Jr. appears on a good number of top-10 program lists in Nebraska basketball history.
His 382 career assists ranks seventh all-time, his 557 career field goals made rank 10th all-time and his 184 career 3-pointers ranks fourth all-time. Additionally, Watson Jr.’s defensive prowess led to him collecting 177 steals, the fourth-most in program history.
All in all, Watson Jr. was by far the most talented point guard the Huskers had this decade, and is one of the best point guards in the history of Nebraska basketball.
Shooting Guard: James Palmer Jr. (2017-2019)
After transferring from Miami (FL) and sitting out the 2016-17 season due to NCAA transfer rules, Palmer Jr. was an elite scoring threat for the Huskers in the remaining two years of his college career.
Palmer Jr. averaged 17.2 points per game in his first season in Lincoln, earning a first-team All-Big Ten nod from the coaches at the end of the season. Palmer Jr. was a slasher who could knock down shots at a solid rate, but he made his money getting to the free-throw line.
His propensity to get to the line allowed him to boost his scoring from 17.2 points per game to 19.7 points per game in his final year in Lincoln. Palmer Jr. and Watson Jr. were relied on heavily to score after the Huskers’ loss of Isaac Copeland Jr. last season, and both did an admirable job putting the team on their backs throughout the end of the season and into the NIT.
Additionally, Palmer Jr.’s 708 points scored in 2018-19 is the most in a single season in program history.
It’s a shame that Palmer Jr. didn’t spend four years in Lincoln because he would’ve rewritten Husker record books. His 18.5 points per game average ranks second all-time, and he’s sixth all-time with 378 free throws made. Palmer Jr. was one of the best pure scorers Nebraska basketball had this decade, and he and Watson Jr. would have some serious chemistry in this backcourt.
Off-Ball Guard: Terran Petteway (2013-2015)
Like Palmer Jr., Petteway transferred into the Nebraska program. Petteway sat out the 2012-13 season due to NCAA transfer rules and then became one of the most dominant offensive players in the country over his two years in Lincoln.
Petteway was the Big Ten scoring champ in 2013-14, averaging 18.1 points per game and had 30 double-figure scoring performances. He elevated his play when it mattered most too, averaging 20.8 points per game in NU’s 12 games against top-50 RPI teams that season. The Galveston, Texas native’s impressive first season ended with a unanimous First Team All-Big Ten selection.
While Petteway didn’t earn first-team honors in 2014-15, he did boost his scoring to 18.2 points per game. In fact, he and Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell were the only players to average more than 18 points, 4.75 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. Despite being a Third Team All-Big Ten selection, Petteway was named an honorable mention AP All-American at season’s end.
Petteway went pro after the 2014-15 season, but he finished with the third-highest scoring average in program history (18.1 points per game). Had he stayed another year, he would’ve easily cracked the top 10 scoring list.
Like Palmer Jr., Petteway’s smooth game and scoring ability earns him a spot in the all-decade team.
Off-Ball Guard: Andrew White III (2015-16)
The transfer theme continues on this team, as White III transferred to Nebraska from Kansas after spending 2012-14 under Bill Self.
White III played one season in Lincoln, but he gets the nod for this small-ball lineup for his scoring prowess, especially from 3-point range. He started every game for the Huskers in 2015-16, averaging 16.6 points per game. That figure was good for sixth-best in the Big Ten, and his 5.9 rebounds per game ranked fifth in the conference.
He reached double-figures in a team-high 28 games that season, including a pair of 30-point performances. White III also made 87 3-pointers while in Lincoln, the second-most for a Husker in a single season. At the end of the 2015-16 campaign, White III was named an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection by coaches and media.
After the season White III graduated and went to Syracuse as a grad transfer, but his ability to keep defenses honest with the 3-pointer will be a nice addition to the starting five.
Small Forward: Shavon Shields (2012-2016)
A four-year contributor who started 112 games for Tim Miles, Shields left Lincoln as one of the most decorated players in program history.
The Olathe, Kansas native was one of only five players to finish his Husker career with over 1,500 points and over 600 rebounds. Shields was an offensive force for the Huskers, finishing with 1,630 career points, the No. 5 mark in program history. He made 562 field goals en-route to those points, good for eighth in Nebraska history. Shields also converted 429 free throws over four years, the No. 4 all-time mark.
Shields was a three-year co-captain for the Huskers, and was named to the All-Big Ten teams on three separate occasions, with the most notable distinction being a Second Team All-Big Ten selection in 2015-16.
His 2015-16 season was his best season in Lincoln, as he averaged 16.8 points per game. When that squad needed a basket in the clutch or to go on a run, Shields was the guy to get it done. He also was named to the Big Ten All-Tournament team with 19.7 points per game, 8.3 rebounds per game and 1.7 rebounds per game over the course of the tournament.
Shields saw his production increase each season in Lincoln, and his steady play is the perfect presence to complete our starting five.
Off the Bench
Tai Webster (2013-2017)
What an option to bring off of the bench. The New Zealand product exploded during his last two seasons in Lincoln, capped with a 2016-17 season in which he averaged 17 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Webster was the first player in Nebraska history to finish with such numbers, and just the ninth Big Ten player to do so since 1993-94.
Webster was a Second Team All-Big Ten selection by the media in his final season as a Husker.
Isaiah Roby (2016-2019)
Nebraska’s lone NBA Draft pick of the decade had to be included. While Husker fans feel that Roby may not have lived up to his full potential while in Lincoln, Roby did average 11.8 points per game in his final season in Lincoln while his 154 blocks ranked No. 6 in program history.
Walter Pitchford (2013-2015)
This team needs some size, and Pitchford’s 6-foot-10 frame fits the bill. A Florida transfer, Pitchford started 57 games for Nebraska over the course of two seasons. He averaged 6.9 points per game and 3.9 rebounds per game during his time in Lincoln. He also could step out and hit the occasional 3-pointer, with 37 total made in 2014-15. Pitchford also had 14 blocks in his final season in Lincoln.