LINCOLN — The big family conversation is coming for the McGowens family. They’re veterans at making lists of pros and cons, conducting virtual recruiting visits on Zoom and narrowing a big list down to just two schools.
By next Wednesday at the latest, five-star basketball recruit Bryce McGowens will sign scholarship papers with just one school. And Nebraska might be it.
Nebraska and Georgia made the final cut Monday, McGowens’ father, Bobby, confirmed to The World-Herald. Bryce McGowens, one of the top 25 players in the 2021 class, may sign as early as Wednesday and no later than next Wednesday. When the 6-foot-6, 175-pounder decided to decommit from Florida State and reopen his recruitment in early October, a flood of attention came his way.
Nebraska checked in. NU is where Bryce’s older brother, Trey, will play this season after transferring from Pittsburgh. And Trey’s enthusiasm about his new school is a factor in Bryce’s interest.
“They talk a lot, and his brother has kind of sold him on Nebraska,” said Bobby McGowens, who played college basketball at Clemson and South Carolina State. “When he opened his recruitment up, I really felt like Nebraska would have a shot because their closeness, their bond. Trey is experiencing how things are run in Nebraska’s program every day, and he’s communicating those things he’s been doing, and his brother’s listening and likes what he’s hearing. Trey feels like he’s getting better, that his coaches care about him as a person moreso than a basketball player. Those things have resonated with Bryce.”
So has another Husker, freshman guard Elijah Wood, who was high school roommates with Bryce at a now-closed academy school. And so has NU coach Fred Hoiberg’s fast-paced, well-spaced offense. The virtual recruiting visits — needed because of the ongoing pandemic — have gone well, Bobby McGowens said. Nebraska has a plan for Bryce’s development and the system fits his skill set. McGowens is a career 42% 3-point shooter in high school and averaged 25.3 points last season.
Georgia, the other finalist, has the advantage of geography, as it’s only 90 minutes from the McGowens’ home in South Carolina, Bobby said. The family likes UGA coach Tom Crean, who at Marquette and Indiana has sent guards to the NBA. Hoiberg did the same at Iowa State.
Bobby McGowens said the family has already worked through the distance factor with Trey, who played two seasons at Pittsburgh.
“We want our kids to be happy,” Bobby McGowens said. “We don’t want them to be concerned with choosing a school just to make sure we can see them or their family can see them. We can always see them. It’s not the '50s and '60s where your game might not be on television. We’ll always be able to see them play on TV.”
Bobby said he didn’t know which way Bryce was leaning.
If Nebraska wins, he'd be the program's first five-star high school signee in the recruiting service era, and a key addition to NU’s 2021 class. It would also be the rare occasion where a player spurned the top programs in the country to join one in a rebuild.
“It’s not about the blue bloods with him,” Bobby said. “He didn’t want to find the biggest school to attend. He wanted to make sure he goes somewhere where he feels like he can make an immediate impact.”