Roby still weighing options after initial meeting with Hoiberg; new coach first met with team Tuesday afternoon
Isaiah Roby stood out at coach Fred Hoiberg’s introductory news conference for a couple of reasons.
One, because he was the only 6-foot-8, 230-pound power forward with three-point range on the third floor of Memorial Stadium.
Two, because the decision he settles on sometime in the next two months will likely end up being one of the biggest pieces of Nebraska’s 2019-20 season on the court.
“I think that if I get out in front of these (NBA) teams and perform the way I know I can, I think I can get drafted this year,” Roby said Tuesday. “If I know I’m going to get drafted — that’s something, I mean, (Hoiberg’s) even encouraged me. We talked on the phone and he said, ‘If you get the opportunity, I’m not going to hold you back. I want what’s best for you.’ That would definitely make it hard (to return to Nebraska).”
But that’s not to say there’s no chance of Roby coming back for his senior season. Far from it.
Roby said he and Hoiberg have talked about what his role would be with the Huskers should he return, and he’s been encouraged by those discussions.
“That’s something that he talked to me about. With the way they play, fast-paced, he said he likes to put the ball in his four-man’s hands a lot,” Roby said. “We didn’t go into that in-depth of talks about it, but obviously I’m somebody that can thrive in his system.”
Many have compared what Roby could potentially be in Hoiberg’s system to what Georges Niang turned into for Iowa State while playing under Hoiberg for three seasons. Niang, now with the Utah Jazz, left Iowa State as the program’s second all-time leading scorer and parlayed his success into a second-round draft spot.
Roby has watched plenty of Niang film, he said, and tried to take pieces of his game to add to his own. That evolution would seem primed to take the next step should he return.
“It is a pro both ways (going or staying). Obviously coming back to the team, there’s a lot of stuff up in the air on who’s going to be on the team, and that’s a problem every offseason for every team because so many people transfer nowadays,” Roby said. “But yeah, I think having a coach like Coach Hoiberg to come back to would definitely be a pro.”
Roby and Johnny Trueblood were the only two players from the current roster to attend the news conference. Hoiberg said he met with the team just before coming over to Memorial Stadium.
“When you have the experience he has from so many different angles, he handles those things great,” new Nebraska assistant Matt Abdelmassih said of Hoiberg’s first interaction with the current Huskers. “I think he commands a lot of respect right when he walks into the room.”
That seemed to be the case Tuesday in a short get-together. Hoiberg said he plans to meet with each player individually Friday to go over expectations and lay out a schedule for the spring, and the team will get down to business after the Final Four.
“I loved the meeting today. You looked up, and everybody had eye contact with you,” Hoiberg said.
So, now, as Nebraska basketball begins to move forward and NU’s players watch the Final Four this weekend, perhaps what Hoiberg told them in that short meeting will start to take hold.
“I talked to them about the opportunity we have moving forward. And this is such a special time of year. The greatest sporting event in the world is going on right now with the NCAA Tournament,” Hoiberg said. “And I challenged them — the amount of work it takes. … That’s what I’m going to demand and expect out of our players, is to go out every day, and give everything we can, and put an exciting product on the floor that will make our fans proud.”