Husker hoops is ready to kick off its season with a party Friday night.
The sold-out event will feature introductions of the men’s and women’s teams, a short men’s scrimmage, the unveiling of the new Pinnacle Bank Arena court and some contests.
Oh, and Rick Ross.
Yeah, the “everyday I’m hustlin’ ” rapper. The former prison guard. The guy who rapped about “Lotta drug dealin’ ’round me goin’ down in Dade County.”
Excuse me while I hum a few bars of the “Sesame Street” classic “one of these things is not like the others ...”
It’s a big deal — like if Brad Paisley played at halftime of the spring game — but they didn’t pick a country star. And please excuse me if I’m off base here, but they also didn’t go with someone who would be a hit at the Nebraska State Fair.
Nope, they went with the “Purple Lamborghini” rapper.
Why? Because he’s not there for you. Not unless you happen to be an athlete who Nebraska is hoping will enroll at NU in 2020 or ’21.
Friday’s Opening Night is all about the prospective recruits.
This weekend happens to be the earliest the basketball team can have a practice, and just so happens to be the weekend Ohio State comes to Memorial Stadium.
“We’re excited. A lot of our recruits are excited as well,” said Brandon Meier, NU’s senior associate athletic director for marketing and media.
So why not pump the thing up as big as you can and get every teenager with a dream of playing college athletics to Lincoln?
Rick Ross will help. Having ESPN’s “College GameDay” on the premises will help. The energy of the Ohio State game will be big. Heck, Larry the Cable Guy might even convince a young fan that Nebraska is where they want to be.
This is big. It’s a big opportunity to impress, so you better believe every Husker coach who’s hoping to land some big-time recruits will be trying to show these kids that Lincoln, Nebraska, is a cool place to be.
“Huge rappers come to town all the time! And NBA stars! And movie stars, too! Why don’t you commit to spending the next few years here? We swear this sort of thing happens all the time.”
How Nebraska landed Ross might be even more interesting.
Initially, I thought maybe Ross came courtesy of his pal Dwyane Wade (more on that later).
But it was Adidas.
Adidas has ties with artists such as Pharrell Williams and Snoop Dogg, NU’s Meier said, and Nebraska relied on the apparel company to secure him.
Nebraska also spoke to officials at Kansas, another Adidas school that welcomed Ross to perform at its football team’s spring game back in April. Ross was good to work with and performed a clean show, they told Nebraska.
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Ross’ connection to Wade can’t hurt, either. Ross is pals with the perennial NBA All-Star, and Wade has connections to NU. Wade’s son, Zaire Wade, is a heavily recruited high school basketball player. His movie star wife, Gabrielle Union, is from Omaha and a huge Husker fan. And Wade played for Husker hoops coach Fred Hoiberg when they were both with the Chicago Bulls. (When Hoiberg got his new coaching job, Wade tweeted his congrats.)
Wade and Union probably won’t be at Ross’ performance — they’re scheduled to speak at Tom Osborne’s TeamMates Gala that evening — but it’s safe to say the star couple would also be a big draw for recruits.
So if you’re sitting in the packed stands of Pinnacle Bank Arena on Friday and wondering why they didn’t pick someone you might typically listen to on the hometown radio station in, say, Holt County, remember that they’re not worried about you. You’re already a fan. They want one of those kids to pledge at least the next four years of their life to wearing the scarlet and cream.