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HUSKER MEN’S HOOPS

Bryce and Trey McGowens await their futures ahead of Thursday's NBA draft

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Rutgers vs. Nebraska, 1.29

Nebraska's Bryce McGowens drives past a Rutgers defender in January at Pinnacle Bank Arena. McGowens scored 29 points against Rutgers, tying the Nebraska record for a freshman in a conference game to help him earn one of his eight Big Ten freshman of the week awards.

The suits have been ready for weeks.

Bobby McGowens said his sons, former Nebraska guards Bryce and Trey McGowens, a month ago purchased the outfits they’ll wear to Thursday’s NBA Draft. Too excited to wait.

As Thursday night draws closer, clocks tick slower, and the anticipation builds at the McGowens' home.

“It’s a lot of excitement, a lot of anxiety, some level of stress,” Bobby McGowens said this week. “We’re trying to figure out all the moving parts and where they’ll end up.”

Neither Bryce nor Trey received a green room invitation, but the family is still flying to Brooklyn for the event. They’ll wait from the stands at Barclays Center, “where the action is,” Bobby said, to learn Bryce and Trey’s next move.

Bryce’s projections vary widely. As of Wednesday afternoon, The Ringer’s NBA draft guide predicts that the Memphis Grizzlies will pick him 22nd overall. The Athletic says the Miami Heat will take him five spots later. Sports Illustrated (Portland Trail Blazers, 36th), ESPN (New Orleans Pelicans, 41st) and Bleacher Report (Toronto Raptors, 33rd) projects him as a second-rounder.

Bobby doesn’t concern himself with mock drafts, though. He says the reporters who write them aren’t privy to the same conversations as Bryce’s agent, Drew Gross, who tells Bobby that Bryce has impressed several teams during the pre-draft process.

Scouts like the muscle he’s added. They say his jumper looks good after shooting 27.4% from three-point range at Nebraska. Some teams have said Bryce looks as good or better than many lottery prospects during group workouts.

“I feel pretty good about Bryce’s position,” Bobby said.

Nebraska men's basketball portraits

Trey McGowens (2) and Bryce McGowens pose for a photo on Sept. 22, 2021, at Hendricks Training Complex.

Bobby also likes what he’s hearing about Trey, who has worked out for the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks and Sacramento Kings. He’s projected to go undrafted, but Bobby feels “very strongly” that Trey will be in a good situation by the end of Thursday night.

They’ve watched the draft for years from their living room, rooting on favorite players and family friends. The McGowens family shares South Carolinian roots with New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson and Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant. Bobby played AAU basketball with Ja’s father, Tee, along with Hall of Fame guard Ray Allen.

Their advice ahead of Thursday: “Keep your circle tight,” Bobby said, quoting Allen and Morant. “And continue to work as hard (as you did) to get there to stay there.”

The work begins Friday, after Thursday night’s celebration. First round or second, drafted or undrafted, Bobby sees the evening as a “great moment” for his family. Bobby and Pam, the boys’ mother, spent many years and dollars shuttling Bryce and Trey to practices and AAU tournaments — “the grind of March to July,” Bobby said. They shared their sons’ nerves before big games and disappointments after tough losses.

“And it's all coming to the realization that all the hard work and dedication and sacrifices were definitely worth it,” Bobby said.

He sees Bryce as a ready-made contributor for a team that needs wing help. But if a contender like the Miami Heat or the defending-champion Golden State Warriors pick him, he can wait his turn.

Trey, in Bobby’s eyes, can be a second or third guard that disrupts opposing ball handlers and provides strong leadership. He’s improved his shooting mechanics this summer, too.

NBA fans will see what he means soon enough. They, like the McGowens family, just have to stand by for a few more hours, until 6:30 p.m. Thursday night. Almost time to wear the suits.

Bobby can’t wait to see them.

“I haven’t seen anything yet,” Bobby said. “They’re trying to keep it a secret.”

Another Husker to watch 

Former Nebraska guard Alonzo Verge is another name to watch this week.

Verge has worked out for the Dallas Mavericks, Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Clippers during the pre-draft process. He also averaged 11.3 points, seven assists and 5.3 rebounds at the Portsmouth Invitational, which features some of the top seniors in the country. 

Verge tested the draft waters last summer before enrolling at Nebraska. He averaged 14.5 points, 5.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds last season. He is projected to go undrafted but could land somewhere as an undrafted free agent. 

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