Face of Nebraska basketball, Ubel has bright future

2013-03-04T23:00:00Z 2013-03-05T19:42:05Z Face of Nebraska basketball, Ubel has bright futureBy BRIAN ROSENTHAL / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

Brandon Ubel said he’s always had a master plan for his future after college basketball.

First, he wants to play the sport, likely overseas, for as long as possible. He then wants to try coaching, probably at the college level.

When he’s done playing and coaching, Ubel plans to put to use his broadcasting degree, ideally as a television analyst.

Think studio analyst for the Big Ten Network. Or even ESPN.

“If that love for basketball fades after two or three years, or if I don’t like coaching,” Ubel said, “then I might be in broadcasting pretty quick.”

Whatever avenue Ubel pursues, and whenever he chooses it, those close to the Nebraska senior forward expect nothing but success.

“Brandon gets it, and that’s what we really appreciate about him. He sees the big picture,” said Nebraska associate athletic director Keith Zimmer, who’s in charge of life skills.

“He’s kind of the face of the program. The last four years, he’s been a constant with that team. As you take him out into the schools and everywhere else, he’s the guy that people have associated with Nebraska basketball.”

Ubel, a native of Kansas City, Kan., who will play his final home game Wednesday, will graduate in May with a degree in broadcasting. He’s been the men’s basketball representative for the student-advisory committee, participated in School is Cool Week and American Education Week, given tours of Memorial Stadium and the Hendricks Training Complex to special-needs students, and served as an intern at Lincoln television station KLKN.

Why be so active?

Because he can, Ubel said.

“There’s always time to do stuff like that,” he said. “You almost have to talk yourself out of it. If you don’t want to do it, then you’ll find something else to conflict with it. But I like doing that kind of stuff. It’s fun.”

Always willing and always positive, Ubel is the perfect example of the student-athlete Nebraska wants to develop, Zimmer said.

Former coach Doc Sadler, in a phone interview this weekend, described Ubel as an “unbelievable role model” who’s the perfect person to help build a program.

“In three years, I never remember Brandon Ubel ever having a bad day,” said Sadler, who recruited Ubel.

“That in itself is unique. You get in at 2 in the morning, if he had an 8 o’clock class, I never knew him to miss it. I remember Toney McCray always saying, ‘Gosh, does Brandon ever mess up?’ We can’t all be like Brandon, and that’s the kind of guys you’d like to have in your program.”

First-year coach Tim Miles agreed.

“He’s been rock-solid, just kind of a pillar of what you want your program to be about,” Miles said. “He’s one of those guys that I’m proud to have just been able to coach for a year. He’s been a lot of fun, and I’m excited about watching him finish strong.”

Ubel said he’s been in touch with several former Husker teammates about playing professionally: Brandon Richardson, who's playing in Iceland; Toney McCray, in Mexico; Lance Jeter, in Germany; and Caleb Walker, in Denmark.

As for broadcasting, Ubel made a key inroad at October’s Big Ten Media Day in Chicago, when former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl, now an analyst with Sirius XM radio, was impressed with Ubel’s presence during an interview.

“I was like, ‘What’s your major, son?’” Pearl said, “and he said, ‘Broadcasting.’ I said, ‘You wanna be a play-by-play guy or analyst?’ He said, “Analyst,’ and I felt threatened. I felt threatened.”

Pearl gave Ubel the number of the Sirius XM producer, who’s been in contact with Ubel about helping with coverage of this year's NCAA Final Four in Atlanta. Last year, Purdue’s Robbie Hummel assisted the satellite station in coverage of the Final Four.

“That door’s definitely open,” Ubel said.

Certainly, one of many in Ubel’s future.

“We appreciate his efforts and his willingness,” Zimmer said, “and just being a good, genuine guy, always eager to help and step up and do more than what’s required.”

Reach Brian Rosenthal at 402-473-7436 or brosenthal@journalstar.com. You can follow him on Twitter @HuskerExtraBR.

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