The Mavericks will receive some much-needed help at the post position. This fall, transfers Logan Strom and Brett Barney will be welcomed onto the Omaha team.
Logan Strom, a Nebraskan at heart, returns after one year at the University of California at Davis, where he red-shirted. By NCAA standards, he will be required to sit out one year, and will have three years of eligibility remaining. In his senior year at Norfolk High School, the 6-8 forward averaged nearly 17 points a game, along with 9 rebounds per game. He would go on to lead his team to their first Class A title in 30 years.
Brett Barney (a 6-9 center) will be eligible to play immediately, having spent three years at Wichita State as a walk-on. Barney red-shirted one of those years.
When asked about the move in an interview with Omaha World Herald reporter Tony Boone, Strom explained: “After my freshman year here, I just wanted to get back around family and friends.” Strom had already considered UNO “pretty heavily” as a high school recruit. “Adapting to basketball at the college level is a totally different animal… Coming into it, what you expect isn’t really how it goes,” Strom added. After adding the two schools, the young Nebraska native will garner a total of two years off the court to adapt to the pace, while he awaits eligibility.
Strom also has ties with the players already on the current roster. For example, current Omaha guard Ayo Akinwole faced off against him in the 2017 Class A State Championship, as a member of the Papillion-La Vista Monarchs. The two also played against each other in the 2017 Nebraska Coaches’ Association All-Star game later that year.
For Barney, it was simply about playing time. But he was also impressed by the attitude of the team. While Barney spent two years as an eligible member of the Wichita State roster, he saw only 53 minutes in-game, total “When I came up on my visit and played with them, I just really liked how hard they played,” he said. “I think this team, coming into this situation, has a very good chance of making the (NCAA) tournament… They’re great people here (at Wichita State), but I just felt like it was time for me to go do my own thing and be able to play a little bit.”
Originally from Wichita, Barney has little connection to the Omaha area; however, his visit to campus last year made a lasting impact, influencing his decision to play at Omaha. As a junior at Maize South High School, he averaged 14.7 points on a team that was also called the Mavericks.
The addition at the post position are desperately needed for this Maverick team. Starting forward Lamar Wofford-Humphrey (6-9) graduated this spring, leaving rising sophomore Matt Pile (6-8) as the only true post player. Riddled with injury, the position was a weak spot last season: in their last ten games, Omaha only outscored their opponent in the paint once, tying with their opponent one other time. UNO’s record over those ten games was 2-8.
“Brett brings size to our frontcourt, which was an immediate focus during this off season,” mentioned Omaha head coach Derrin Hansen. “Not only can he score around the rim, but he can stretch the defense to the arc.”
After their worst season by record since 2001 under Kevin Lehman, the Mavericks look to bounce back in 2018 with returning stars such as Zach Jackson and Mitch Hahn. The schedule is expected to be released later this summer.