The Cam Mack era at Nebraska is over after one season.
The dynamic sophomore point guard — the first player to record a triple-double in program history — announced Thursday that he’s entering the transfer portal. Mack declared for the NBA draft three weeks ago but said he’d keep his eligibility. The announcement Thursday means if he doesn’t find a spot to play professionally, he’ll return to college basketball, but not at Nebraska.
Mack said the move was due to family circumstances. His mother has been battling breast cancer in Austin, Texas.
Thursday’s news was not surprising. Coaches have not been planning for Mack’s return.
Before Mack declared for the draft, they offered graduate transfer Kobe Webster the opportunity to be the Huskers’ starting point guard next season. Webster, who averaged 17 points at Western Illinois the past two seasons, committed and is immediately eligible.
Mack’s departure marks a shift in the look of the program.
The 6-foot-2, 175-pound guard was supposed to be a staple of Fred Hoiberg’s program for at least one more year. He was recruited by assistant Matt Abdelmassih and Hoiberg to “run the show,” as Mack told The World-Herald last spring. He’ll instead be a footnote in the first season, which ended with a 17-game losing streak and a 7-25 record, the worst since 1945.
Hoiberg was hired almost exactly one year ago.
Mack averaged 12.0 points, 6.4 assists and 4.5 rebounds as a sophomore. He came from Salt Lake Community College, where he was one of the top-rated junior college recruits in the country.
His triple-double (11 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds) came in a win over Purdue. Mack scored in double figures in 14 straight games before being held scoreless in a home loss to Penn State. Mack did not start that game, benched by Hoiberg for being late to a film session.
That became a theme of Mack’s time in Lincoln.
He was disciplined five times by the staff, including two suspensions at the end of the year. After an alleged hit-and-run incident in Lincoln, then missing curfew before the season finale at Minnesota, Mack’s time with the Huskers was over. He did not make the trip to the Big Ten tournament, then didn’t meet with Hoiberg in Lincoln for end-of-season meetings. Mack declared for the draft the day after Nebraska’s season-ending loss to Indiana.
His final game was a 13-point, seven-assist effort in an overtime loss to Northwestern.
Mack took to Twitter days after his NBA declaration to apologize to the university, fans, coaches and teammates for “being irresponsible within the guidelines of tardies and missed curfew which translated into not starting games and multiple suspensions.”
“I understand the importance of these rules and moving forward that will not be a part of my future,” Mack wrote.
Besides Webster at point guard next year, Dalano Banton, a 6-8 transfer from Western Kentucky, also will run sets in Hoiberg’s 5-out system. Nebraska now has two open scholarships for the 2020-21 roster.
Hoiberg and Abdelmassih have also been looking for another point guard to add to the roster, including 2021 four-star Carter Whitt, who considered reclassifying to the 2020 class but did not. Nebraska has been in contact, too, with Ohio State transfer D.J. Carton and Pittsburgh transfer Trey McGowens. McGowens told CBS on Thursday that Nebraska is in his final five schools. He started 64 of 66 games in two years at Pitt, and scored 11.5 points per game with 3.6 assists as a sophomore.
Mack’s departure is the third transfer this offseason. He joins Jervay Green — a fellow junior college recruit — and Dachon Burke. Nebraska is now set to bring in as many as six new scholarship players to next year’s roster. Hoiberg averaged seven new additions — not including sit-out transfers from the year prior — in his four offseasons at Iowa State.