The Nebraska Supreme 17U boys basketball team is one of the newest AAU teams in the entire country, and it’s also one of the best.
After compiling a 10-2 record at major travel tournaments in Atlanta and Dallas over the past two weeks, Nebraska Supreme is drawing national attention. The Season Ticket’s most recent ranking of the top 25 teams on the AAU Circuit included Nebraska Supreme at No. 16, the program’s first-ever national ranking in roughly five months of existence.
“It’s a compliment to a lot of people in Nebraska like high school coaches and trainers,” said Nebraska Supreme director Ryan Reeder. “There are so many people you can thank because it just says a lot about Nebraska basketball in the sense we have all Nebraska kids on our team and can still be ranked 16th overall in the nation.”
The Nebraska Supreme AAU team only came about as a joint venture between Lincoln Supreme and Team Factory from Omaha. Both organizations are part of the Under Amour Association, and by joining forces they were able to place a team on the UAA’s top circuit.
The major draw for the Nebraska Supreme 17U team is Grand Island senior Isaac Traudt, who is ranked as the No. 54 recruit nationally by 247Sports. Coaches such as Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Georgetown’s Patrick Ewing have watched Nebraska Supreme play, and Millard North senior Jasen Green has also seen his stock grow as a top-250 player nationally.
Representing Lincoln on the team are Sam Hastreiter (Lincoln Pius X), Kwat Abdelkarim (Lincoln North Star) and Ben Hunzeker (Lincoln Southwest).
While Hastreiter hasn’t quite been the team’s go-to scorer, it’s been a summer of growth in terms of rebounding and simply being a team player. And as long as the team keeps picking up wins, that’s good enough for him.
“Everyone just tries to help in ways that they can and just play their own game,” Hastreiter said. “I think that us understanding as a team is what’s giving us success; a lot of the games are really balanced, no one’s trying to get up 20 shots a game, so it’s just good team basketball.”
That style of basketball is what Reeder wants Nebraska Supreme to represent across all age divisions. With NCAA coaches in the midst of a live recruiting period, Reeder has been fielding many calls from coaches who have seen the 17U team play. What he hears most often is that Supreme is playing the game the right way.
“Pretty much every coach that calls me always compliments our team on how well we share the ball, that we do things the right way, that our bench is always involved or that we’re cleaning up trash after games,” Reeder said. “The compliments about how our program displays itself, no matter what happens next week, is rewarding enough.”
It’s already been a successful summer for the Supreme 17U team that currently holds a 26-6 record, but it could make an even bigger splash than just a national ranking. Nebraska Supreme will take part in the 32-team UAA Finals in Indianapolis this weekend, and it enters the tournament as the No. 4 overall seed thanks to its performance in past weeks.
By the end of the week, Nebraska Supreme could be UAA national champions, a prospect that excites Hastreiter. He’s watched the likes of Hunter Sallis and Chucky Hepburn elevate the status of Nebraska high school basketball onto the national level, and now he’s part of the team that can keep it going, and perhaps take Nebraska prep basketball to heights never seen before.
“I feel like we're kind of putting Nebraska on the map a little bit,” Hastreiter said. “Especially with Hunter Sallis and those guys that kind of did it before us, I feel like we're kind of carrying it on and just putting Nebraska out there more. It's just been a really good experience going against some of the best competition in the country, and to be doing as well as we have been doing is just really awesome.”
These first-team Super-Staters have game: Meet the five boys who took their games to another level in 2020-21
They got... 𝗚𝗔𝗠𝗘!
This season's group of first-team Super-Staters are gamers. They take their game to the next level. Do you see what we're getting at?
We spent a day at The Amazing Pizza Machine in Omaha. Sure, there were serious questions, but we enjoyed learning a little bit more about how games, arcade or otherwise, play in each player's lives.
We got some good answers, too.
So ... let's get to it.
Let us introduce the 2020-21 Journal Star first-team boys Super-Staters.
A day at the arcade 🕹️
Frankie Fidler and Saint Thomas getting some shots up on the pop-a-shot. Stuffed animals. Flashing lights. Enjoy this behind-the-scenes look at the Journal Star's first-team Super-State photoshoot.
𝙃𝙐𝙉𝙏𝙀𝙍 𝙎𝘼𝙇𝙇𝙄𝙎 (co-captain)
𝙼𝚒𝚕𝚕𝚊𝚛𝚍 𝙽𝚘𝚛𝚝𝚑 | 𝟼-𝟻 | 𝚂𝚛. | 𝟸𝟸.𝟸 𝙿𝙿𝙶 | 𝟻.𝟼 𝚁𝙿𝙶
College: Committed to Gonzaga on Friday from his list of eight finalists – Gonzaga, Iowa State, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oregon and UCLA.
He’s got game: There were a lot of firsts when it comes to Sallis, last year’s honorary captain of the Super-State team – first Nebraska boy to be named a McDonald’s All-American, first five-star basketball prospect to ever come out of Nebraska and he was the headliner on a talent-rich Mustang team that won the school’s first boys Class A state basketball title and the first state championship in Coach Tim Cannon’s career. Sallis, the No. 7 recruit in the class of 2021 nationally according to Rivals and No. 1 point guard prospect, shot 58% from the field and 81% from the free throw line this season. Sallis, who finished his career with a school-record 1,819 points, was comfortable scoring at all three levels, knocking down three-pointers with the same ease as nailing mid-range jumpers or driving it all the way to the basket and throwing down a dunk over a taller defender. He also averaged 2.4 steals per game, a testament to his added focus on the defensive end this winter.
Coach mode: “It’s no accident Hunter had a great season year. He was getting out of school at 12:30 because of a shortened schedule for seniors, and he was getting individual workouts in, then coming back here for our practice at 3:30. With all the work he was putting in, he just kept getting better.” Millard North coach Tim Cannon.
Game mode with Hunter:
Fun game he can maybe beat other Super-Staters in: “The motorcycle games. All of those. I feel like I am winning for sure.”
Go-to games growing up: “I like Pac-Man. That was really my favorite game.”
How many makes out of 20 on pop-a-shot: “For sure, 20.”
𝘾𝙃𝙐𝘾𝙆𝙔 𝙃𝙀𝙋𝘽𝙐𝙍𝙉 (co-captain)
𝙱𝚎𝚕𝚕𝚎𝚟𝚞𝚎 𝚆𝚎𝚜𝚝 | 𝟼-𝟷 | 𝚂𝚛. | 𝟷𝟻.𝟿 𝙿𝙿𝙶 | 𝟻.𝟷 𝚁𝙿𝙶
He’s got game: Hepburn’s got a total game, and it’s that unique ability to contribute in every facet that sets him apart from any other high school player in the history of the state. Hepburn’s strength, quickness, explosiveness and elite ballhandling skills always make him a threat to drive and score, but he also raised his three-point shooting to 37% this season, making him even more difficult to guard. Hepburn, one of the best facilitators in state history, averaged an astounding 8.3 assists and 3.8 steals per game. He had 10 or more assists nine times during the season, including a stretch at mid-season when he had double-figure assists in eight of nine games. Hepburn, who led Bellevue West to the 2020 state title, was at his best in the big games, going off for 32 points in an overtime win at Creighton Prep during the regular season and scoring 24 points and dishing out 13 assists in a win over then undefeated Lincoln Pius X. Hepburn, a four-year starter for the Thunderbirds, finished with 1,706 points, 638 assists and 324 steals in his career.
Coach mode: “The unique thing about Chucky, and it’s been this way for four years, I’ve never had a player who doesn’t have to score to have a monumental impact on the game. When he does score combined with all the other stuff, his influence goes to another level, and that was evident in the last two games at the state tournament.” Bellevue West coach Doug Woodard.
Game mode with Chucky:
Fun game he can maybe beat other Super-Staters in: “The Connect Four game. Ain’t nobody can beat me in that game.”
Go-to games growing up: “I played Monopoly so much.”
How many makes out of 20 on pop-a-shot: “20 out of 20.”
𝙶𝚛𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝙸𝚜𝚕𝚊𝚗𝚍 | 𝟼-𝟿 | 𝙹𝚛. | 𝟸𝟻.𝟹 𝙿𝙿𝙶 | 𝟿.𝟺 𝚁𝙿𝙶
College: Undecided, has 28 Division I offers, the biggest from Virginia, Oregon, Kansas, Louisville, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Stanford and Wisconsin as well as Nebraska and Creighton.
He’s got game: Traudt, a four-star recruit nationally by Rivals, intrigued college coaches with a strong summer performance playing AAU for Lincoln Supreme, then followed it up with a high school season in which he excelled in all five positions he played. Traudt is the Islanders’ point guard against full court pressure defenses, he’s their zone breaker with unlimited range beyond the three-point line and he’s their rim protector and inside presence both scoring and rebounding. Despite seeing double and sometimes triple teams, Traudt still shot 51% from the field overall, 37% from three-point territory and 79% at the free throw line. Traudt tied the single-game Class A scoring record with 57 points against Norfolk and also had games of 39 points against Omaha Bryan, 34 against both Bellevue East and Gretna and 33 against Lincoln Southwest. GI’s starting five returns intact next season, making the Islanders a team to watch in Class A next season.
Coach mode: “Isaac’s spent a lot of time and effort working on his body and working on his skill set to get to where he is today. As far as being able to play inside-outside, that’s something he’s always had. Between his sophomore and junior season, he really started to recognize his potential and started to understand that he had to put some time into his body, develop a workout plan and build some strength around his skill set.” Grand Island coach Jeremiah Slough.
Game mode with Isaac:
Fun game he can maybe beat other Super-Staters in: “I beat them (the other Super-Staters) in the Connect four Hoops a couple times. One of the shooting games, too.”
Go-to games growing up: “I played a lot of Mario Cart, and I was pretty good at Fortnite when I played.”
How many makes out of 20 on pop-a-shot: “17 or 18.”
𝙼𝚒𝚕𝚕𝚊𝚛𝚍 𝙽𝚘𝚛𝚝𝚑 | 𝟼-𝟽 | 𝚂𝚛. | 𝟸𝟷.𝟸 𝙿𝙿𝙶 | 𝟽.𝟿 𝚁𝙿𝙶
College: Undecided, will announce commitment on April 10. Has 11 offers, the most significant being Mississippi State, Pepperdine, Richmond, TCU and Virginia Tech.
He’s got game: Thomas, the Nebraska MaxPreps Player of the Year, has grown more than seven inches since entering high school and his game has blossomed at the same time. Thomas shot 57% from the field overall as a senior, and was probably the best three-point shooter in the state, connecting on 82 of 182 shots from beyond the arc for 45%. He had 25 or more points in 11 games this season, including a 48-point explosion in the two overtime win over Bellevue West in the Metro Conference tournament finals, a game Thomas was 19 of 26 from the field and 5 of 9 from three-point. While his shooting and scoring gets the headlines, Thomas’ ballhandling and passing skills make him an even more coveted player at the college level. Thomas averaged 5.2 assists per game, and his feeds inside to Jasen Green for back-to-back baskets in overtime helped the Mustangs get over the top against Bellevue West in the Class A state finals.
Coach mode: “Scoring, rebounding and assists, nobody was doing what Saint did in those three categories this year. Everyone knows he’s a great shooter and scorer, but he’s also very good both distributing the ball and handling it. He can take it the length of the court or penetrate the lane and make a beautiful pass.” Millard North coach Tim Cannon.
Game mode with Saint:
Fun game he can maybe beat other Super-Staters in: “I feel like the car games, like NASCAR and stuff. I’m a good driver…I don’t think they (the other Super-Staters) can drive like I can (laughs).”
Go-to games growing up: “I just played a lot of NASCAR and stuff. A good driver, like I said.”
How many makes out of 20 on pop-a-shot: “All 20, 100%.”
𝙱𝚎𝚕𝚕𝚎𝚟𝚞𝚎 𝚆𝚎𝚜𝚝 | 𝟼-𝟽 | 𝚂𝚛. | 𝟸𝟷.𝟸 𝙿𝙿𝙶 | 𝟼.𝟹 𝚁𝙿𝙶
He’s got game: Much like Thomas, when the big growth spurt hit for Fidler, he already had the guard skills in place to continue his high-level perimeter game but added a dimension inside with his added size. Fidler hit 53% of his shots from the field overall, 40% from beyond the three-point arc and 79% from the free throw line as he became Chucky Hepburn’s favorite target for picking up assists. His season-high was 31 points against Omaha Benson, while also going off for 30 against Creighton Prep in the Metro Conference holiday tournament, 26 against Iowa state champion Waukee, 26 against Omaha Central, 24 in the regular season win over Millard North and 20 against Sunrise Academy, one of the top prep school teams in the country. His length defensively helped him make 44 steals and block 14 shots this season.
Coach mode: “I’ve never had a kid who improved as much as Frankie has from the time he got here to the end of this year. He was 6-1 as a freshman and he played guard growing up, now he’s 6-7 and he has those guard skills. I think the future is even brighter for him as he continues to grow into that body. I think Omaha got themselves a good one, and he has a chance to be a load in the Summit League.” Bellevue West coach Doug Woodard.
Game mode with Frankie:
Fun game he can maybe beat other Super-Staters in: “I think ‘Nothing But Net’ (Pop-a-shot). I think I’m good at that.”
Go-to games growing up: “I like Pac-Man actually. I remember going to the bowling alley or coming here and playing Pac-Man. It always gave me a good vibe.”
How many makes out of 20 on pop-a-shot: “15. I’m not making 20 because I think the rim is real crooked.”
Reach the writer at 402-473-7437 or at LMullin@journalstar.com. On Twitter @lmullin7