Following a breakout junior season, Nebraska forward Isaiah Roby was selected by the Dallas Mavericks with the 45th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft in Brooklyn, New York. The pick originally belonged to the Detroit Pistons but was traded to the Mavericks. Roby was the first Husker player drafted in 20 years.
In his third season, Roby set career-highs with 11.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. He also finished in the top 10 of the Big Ten Conference in blocks, steals and rebounds.
He set a career-high scoring mark in his final game at Pinnacle Bank Arena, scoring 28 points in Nebraska’s win over Butler.
Coming to Nebraska from Dixon, Illinois, Roby played sparingly his freshman season. He averaged 3.1 points per game in an average of 15.2 minutes of playing time. He contributed mainly on defense for most of the season as he adjusted to the pace and physicality of the college game.
After a turbulent offseason for the Nebraska program that saw the departure of six key role players, Roby took an increased role in his sophomore year. In January of the 2017-18 season, Roby was inserted into the starting lineup. He finished the season averaging 8.7 points per game and helped lead the Huskers back to postseason play for the first time in four years.
With an increased role, Roby showcased his athleticism on offense, with electrifying dunks, and on defense, where he averaged 6.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game.
Following the 2017-18 season, he entered his name into an advisory committee, which told him what he needed to improve on in order to get drafted. The response motivated him as he drove across his home state of Illinois to Chicago several times per week to work out and train with other high level college basketball players in the area.
His hard work over the offseason paid off, as he started every game of Nebraska’s 2018-19 season. Roby helped the Huskers get off to a 13-4 start and appeared destined to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in his career, but senior forward Isaac Copeland Jr. suffered a torn ACL in late January and the Huskers fell to 13th place in the conference by March.
In the midst of a nightmare season for Nebraska basketball, Roby’s consistent play was a bright spot. His senior season was highlighted by a 19-point, 16-rebound performance in a win over Northwestern and a 22-point, 11-rebound showing in a win over Penn State.
One of his most memorable moments of his final season at Nebraska came in the team’s regular season finale against Iowa. Trailing by 16 in the second half, Roby poured in 23 points on a career-best 9-12 shooting, including 4-4 from beyond the arc, to help the Huskers come back and win in overtime. He played the game wearing No. 14 instead of his traditional 15 in a tribute to Copeland Jr., who was honored for senior day that afternoon.
Despite a poor finish to the regular season, Roby helped Nebraska and former head coach Tim Miles end the year on a high note in postseason play. In a memorable three-game stay in the Big Ten Tournament, Roby averaged 12.7 points per game and helped lead Nebraska to wins over Rutgers and Maryland before falling to Wisconsin in the quarterfinals.
Following the conclusion of the season, Roby declared for the NBA Draft but chose not to hire an agent. When the deadline came to decide whether to return for his senior season or not, a strong showing at the NBA Combine pushed him to stay in the draft and end his collegiate career. He finished with 786 points, 530 rebounds and 154 blocked shots.
Roby will join a Mavericks team that went 33-49 in the 2018-19 NBA Season. His first taste of professional action will come at the Las Vegas Summer League on July 5-15.