Isaiah Roby finally realized how good he could be.

The Nebraska forward who spent three seasons in Lincoln working to unlock his vast potential announced Wednesday he would forgo his senior season of college and remain eligible for the NBA Draft.

The running joke among those who follow Nebraska basketball — whether it be fans, media or, most notably, BTN analyst Stephen Bardo — was that Roby just needed to discover how far his immense potential could take him, and his game would blossom.

He found the answer he was looking for last week, with a strong performance at the NBA Draft Combine, followed by a high-level workout a few days later put on by the Priority Sports management agency that represents him and that was attended by personnel from every NBA franchise.

After sleeping on his decision for a few nights, and one final meeting with his agents, Roby decided to keep his name in the draft.

"It was definitely a hard decision. My heart was kind of always in going," Roby said Wednesday. "But coming back to school, it was an alternative that, say, if the pre-draft process didn't go well for me, it was something that would fuel me to come back and perform.

"But the feedback I was getting, it was good."

Roby will now wait to see if his name is called during the June 20 draft in Brooklyn, New York.

He said at the combine he believed he was in the Nos. 25-40 range of draftable players. He said Wednesday he would either attend the draft or watch from his family's home in Dixon, Illinois.

Should he be picked, he would be the first Husker to be drafted since Venson Hamilton in 1999. Hamilton was taken in the second round that year by the Houston Rockets, but never played in a NBA game.

Roby would be just the fifth Nebraska player drafted since the draft went to two rounds in 1989. The other four are Hamilton, Tyronn Lue (1998), Eric Piatkowski (1994) and Rich King (1991).

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"I knew (Nebraska's draft history) from the time Nebraska started recruiting me," Roby said. "I heard people telling me — if you want to go to the NBA, Nebraska's not the right school; they don't have a track record of putting guys in it. So I kind of always had that.

"That's something I was excited about, and that challenge was something Coach (Tim) Miles sold me on, leaving my mark on this program, and I think I did a good job of that."

Ironically, Roby this season became the only other Husker besides Hamilton to have consecutive seasons of 50 blocked shots and 50 assists.

Roby worked out for four teams before the combine — San Antonio, Minnesota, Milwaukee  and Chicago. He then met with Miami, Phoenix, Toronto and Golden State at the combine, and had workouts with the Warriors, Kings and Suns after the combine ended.

At the combine, Roby measured at 6 foot, 7¼ inches and 214 pounds, with a wingspan of 7-1.

He said at the combine he’s seen himself rated as high as No. 25 in mock drafts (he was 29th to the Spurs on a Bleacher Report projection), and said he's worked out for a lot of teams with draft picks in the 20s and 30s. 

His diverse skill set no doubt played a role in his rise up draft boards. Roby averaged career highs of 11.8 points, 6.9 rebounds 1.9 assists, 1.9 blocked shots and 1.3 steals per game last season.

He finished third in the Big Ten in blocks and ninth in steals — the only league player to rank in the top 10 of both categories.

"The main thing a lot of teams said was, 'No doubt, you have first-round talent,'" Roby said. "Some teams that maybe weren't as high on me as other teams, their only criticism they had of me was, 'You need to get stronger and you need to be more consistent. Because,  without a doubt, you have NBA talent.'"

Roby's departure means Nebraska is back to 13 scholarship players. After a frenzy of signings just before the regular signing period ended May 15, the Huskers were one over the NCAA limit while awaiting Roby's decision.

Nebraska will return one player who saw game action last season in junior Thorir Thorbjarnarson. Dachon Burke sat out last season per NCAA transfer rules.

Nebraska starts summer workouts June 10.

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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