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'I'm very lucky to have landed at a place like Nebraska:' Thorir to leave Husker basketball, pursue pro career
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HUSKER MEN’S HOOPS

'I'm very lucky to have landed at a place like Nebraska:' Thorir to leave Husker basketball, pursue pro career

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Steven M. Sipple, Parker Gabriel and Chris Basnett talk through what's on deck for the last week of Nebraska's spring football session and what recruits are expected to be in town for the Red-White Spring Game next weekend. After that, a conversation about what NU has to do on the diamond to have a chance at hosting an NCAA regional, Thor's decision not to come back to the men's basketball program and the end of the volleyball season. 

Thorir Thorbjarnarson has seen more than just about any other senior college basketball player in the country.

And now the Nebraska guard is ready to see something different.

In a heartfelt social media post, Thorbjarnarson announced Friday that he will not return to Nebraska and instead pursue a professional basketball career, leaving the Husker fan base to say goodbye to one of its favorites from the past four years.

"I'm very lucky to have landed at a place like Nebraska where I have felt at home from the moment I got here," Thorbjarnarson said in a statement. "I have learned a lot in these four years I have been here and enjoyed every second of it. I am proud to say that I am graduating from the University of Nebraska, and I am excited about the next chapter."

Thorbjarnarson's decision brings an end to a four-year career that saw a little bit of everything.

Thorbjarnarson committed to NU in August 2017, and as a freshman in 2017-18, played sparingly on a 22-win team that finished fourth in the Big Ten, lost once at home, and was given a No. 5 seed in the NIT.

His role expanded as a sophomore when a season that started with NU ranked in The Associated Press Top 25 ended with a roster of eight healthy players and then-coach Tim Miles getting fired after another NIT trip.

Then came the rebuild. After Fred Hoiberg was hired, Thorbjarnarson was the only player with on-court experience for NU to return from the previous season. At one time thought to be on his way out of Lincoln with the rest of his former teammates, Thorbjarnarson instead returned and became a valuable, steadying force in each of Hoiberg's first two seasons.

"I think when you look at everything he accomplished last year, he was just such a stabilizing force in a very difficult time when you take over a program like we did," Hoiberg said this spring. "He really has understood and done everything that we’ve asked of him. He’s just a rock out there. He stabilizes everything when he comes in the game on both ends of the floor."

Thorbjarnarson's best season at NU came in Hoiberg's first year, when he started 24 games, averaged 8.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, and led the Huskers in three-point shooting.

But he also went through a 17-game losing streak to end the year, and another roster flip after the season. In a reduced role as a senior, the 6-foot-6, 202-pounder averaged 3.9 points and 3.1 rebounds per game in 2020-21 while suffering through a horrific shooting slump that lasted through most of Nebraska's coronavirus-interrupted Big Ten schedule.

Then, at the end of it all, Thorbjarnarson played some of his best basketball.

Over Nebraska's final eight games, Thorbjarnarson shot 39% from three-point range while averaging 6.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game.

He moved into the starting lineup for NU's final five contests, and averaged 6.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists in those games.

Through everything, he became a beloved piece of Hoiberg's first two Nebraska teams.

"For us he’s going to be a special part of this program for as long as this program is around and as long as we’re here," NU assistant Matt Abdelmassih said during the 2020-21 season. "He’s a foundational piece for what we want this program to become."

Because he wouldn't have counted against Nebraska's scholarship limit next season, Thorbjarnarson's decision has no bearing on the number of scholarships NU has available for 2021-22. The Huskers have one open scholarship available for next season.

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

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Husker men's basketball/baseball 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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