Leave nothing to chance.
Nebraska freshman sharpshooter Charlie Easley, a preferred walk-on from Lincoln Pius X, believes strongly in that credo.
“My main thing is I’m going to try to outwork people,” he said earlier this week shortly before a team workout at the Hendricks Training Complex. “Nothing bad is going to happen if you work your hardest in everything.”
He understands that things won’t always go his way. That’s life. But if you keep working your hardest, he says, you can’t feel too bad about whatever comes down the pike.
You also can turn negatives into positives. To wit: Easley, who averaged 23.3 points for the Class B state champions this past season despite playing through foot pain, was offered a scholarship by only one Division I program, The Citadel. He has no clear idea why he received limited D-I recruiting interest. Nobody really gave him a good answer, he says.
Is the lack of D-I scholarship offers a motivator?
“Definitely,” he says. “There’s a chip on my shoulder.”
“I have a lot of motivators,” he adds. “I keep a lot of them to myself. But I felt like I proved myself in AAU and during the season (at Pius X). I can’t look back and be mad about it. I’ve just got to keep working.”
He's impressed the Nebraska coaching staff during the early stages of summer drills, apparently fully recovered from the foot issue that hounded him during his senior year. He underwent a procedure at the end of the season.
He kept the injury largely to himself.
"Kid is an absolute warrior," Pius X head coach Brian Spicka says. "Never complained or felt sorry for himself. He was honest with us when he needed a break from practice, but absolutely hated missing out on being with his teammates."
Even in discomfort, the 6-foot-2 guard averaged 21.6 points in Pius X's three state tournament triumphs. He's carried the positive momentum into the summer, recently bench-pressing 295 pounds, an eye-opener for the Husker staff.
But the Huskers haven't played any five-on-five practice games, so Easley hasn't been fully tested. Will he be able to lock down Power Five players effectively on defense? How well will he react as a perimeter shooter when defenders charge toward him with more speed and size than he encountered in high school?
"I'm excited to see how he can develop now that he's healthy and can train the way he needs to, so he can take his game to another level," Spicka says. "I know I wouldn't bet against him finding a role on the team."
Easley is mindful of something first-year Nebraska head coach Fred Hoiberg told him: If you can shoot, you can play in my system. After all, Easley shot 45 percent from three-point territory as a senior. That doesn’t happen by accident. He clearly is a stickler for detail when it comes to his shooting form.
Remember his credo: Leave nothing to chance. To that end, he sets up a video camera under the basket to help him analyze his shooting form.
“I’ll just turn it on, shoot a shot, go look at it and then try to fix it,” he says. “I’ve done a lot of that, actually.”
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“I do a lot of stuff with just getting my touch right,” he adds. “I think if you get your touch and release right, you can bring that to anywhere on the court.”
He really had no prolonged shooting slumps at Pius X. Still, strangely, Division-I interest was limited.
He strongly considered attending The Citadel.
“It was a very tough decision,” he says. “I was pretty close to going there. Eventually, I just figured out the military route wasn’t for me.”
His first impressions of a Power Five program's environment?
“Practices, lifting -- everything is intense,” he says. “You’ve got to go hard in everything. Attention to detail is a big thing. Obviously, the speed and physicality is something I’m getting used to. If you’re just one step off from the right spot, the coaches are going to talk to you about it.”
He says it helps that he encountered plenty of speed and physicality on the AAU circuit.
“But, obviously, there’s a higher overall level of talent now,” he says. “I’ve grown to know how you’ve got to play in order to be effective.”
He was a three-year starter at Pius X. Does he prepare mentally to play a lesser role in college?
“I don’t really think like that at all,” he says flatly. “My thought process is to just go out and work your hardest every day and whatever comes out of it, comes out of it. That’s kind of what I did at Pius, and it worked out pretty well. I’m just going to keep doing that and see what happens.”
Bottom line, he didn't sign up for college ball to watch.
“What would I be doing all this for if I didn’t have goals and stuff that motivates me?” he says.
He ended high school with a cumulative 3.9 grade-point average. So college schoolwork shouldn’t be a problem.
“You’ve got to study, though,” he says.
That’s right. Leave nothing to chance.