Omaha Skutt vs. Lincoln Pius X, 3.8

Lincoln Pius X’s Charlie Easley (34) and the Thunderbolts celebrate at the buzzer after their 62-59 overtime win over Omaha Skutt in the Class B state semifinal on March 8 at Pinnacle Bank Arena. 

As Charlie Easley waited to see who would be the next head coach of the Nebraska men's basketball team, he heard an interesting comparison to his own game.

"There was something that somebody said, that I'm a high school version of Coach (Fred) Hoiberg," Easley said Monday. "So I looked him up and saw some highlights of him, then it was kind of ironic that he got the coaching job."

One of the city's top prep players will play for Hoiberg next season. The Pius X standout announced Monday afternoon he will walk on with the Nebraska men's basketball program.

Easley was one of the best players in the state as a senior, leading the Thunderbolts to the Class B state championship while averaging 23.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 3.1 steals per game. He led the Thunderbolts in all four categories.

“If Charlie grows some more with the skill level he already has, the sky’s the limit for him in college,” Pius X coach Brian Spicka said earlier this spring.

The 6-foot-2 Easley was receiving interest from a number of schools, including South Dakota, South Dakota State, North Dakota State and SIU-Edwardsville, and many of the Division II schools in the region. The Division I schools were hesitant to move forward, Easley said, so he decided to make his move across town.

"I always liked Nebraska," Easley said. "I mean, it's in my hometown, and everything just felt right, so I just decided to pull the trigger. I'm 100 percent happy with Nebraska, and it's a dream come true for sure."

Easley was a first-team Super State pick and a co-captain of the Super State team for the Journal Star as a senior. He shot 45% from three-point range and 86% at the free-throw line, and ended his career as Pius X's all-time leading scorer. The Thunderbolts went 27-2 and beat Omaha Roncalli 71-59 in double overtime to win the 2019 Class B title.

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Easley had 25 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in the title game. He averaged 21.6 points in Pius X's three tournament wins.

"I had a phone call with (Hoiberg) and he just told me, 'If you can shoot, you can play in my system.' And he's going to give everyone a shot — walk-on or scholarship," Easley said. "And that's all I can ask for, so I'm excited to get to work."

He is the second walk-on to join the program since Fred Hoiberg was hired as head coach, joining Elkhorn South's Jace Piatkowski. And with Creighton Prep's Akol Arop, NU now has three Nebraska natives on next season's roster. He'll join his new teammates June 10 when Nebraska starts summer workouts.

When he does, it will be the realization of a life-long dream to play Division I basketball.

"That's always been the main goal, and I think I've proven I can play at this level," Easley said. "I'm just going to go into Nebraska and work my hardest and see what will happen."


Nebraska senior James Palmer was selected to the first-ever NBA G League Elite Camp in Chicago next week the University of Nebraska announced Monday. The league provides an opportunity for top-40 players not originally selected for the NBA combine to be invited.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7436 or cbasnett@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.


Husker basketball reporter

A Ravenna native, Chris covers the University of Nebraska men's basketball team and assists with football coverage. He spent nearly 10 years covering sports at the Kearney Hub and nearly four years at the Springfield News-Leader in Springfield, Mo.

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