Yvan Ouedraogo

Yvan Ouedraogo is one of only three players returning from last year's Nebraska basketball team.

As international travel restrictions loosen around the world and voluntary workouts end, two of the three returning contributors from last season’s Nebraska men’s basketball team — Yvan Ouedraogo and Thorir Thorbjarnarson — remain at home overseas.

There is no clear timetable for their return to the U.S.

Nebraska — like any program with international players — is at the mercy of the U.S. government to lift or loosen travel restrictions, which remain stringent as coronavirus cases spike in parts of the country. So for now, Ouedraogo remains in France and Thorbjarnarson in Iceland. Both left Lincoln in March after Nebraska’s season ended, classes were put online and students were sent home.

Most of the Nebraska basketball roster moved to campus at the beginning of June for the start of voluntary workouts. Pittsburgh transfer Shamiel Stevenson is at home in Canada, but is expected to be on campus by mid-July. Fellow Canadian Dalano Banton was able to travel to Lincoln. All players were tested and cleared of COVID-19. New signee Elijah Wood is on campus and has been cleared, a source said.

It’s unclear when the final pieces of the roster will be added.

For Ouedraogo, the only movement allowed out of France at the moment is essential travel. Anyone leaving France must have an attestation, or proof of a legitimate reason to travel. That document qualifies appropriate travel for European Union officials, health care workers, flight crews or French nationals going to a country in the EU. France will open its borders for travel to select countries outside of the EU starting Wednesday. The U.S. is not on that list.

France has seen a drastic decrease in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, with just 280 new cases reported on Monday. The U.S. reported more than 35,000 cases on the same day.

A travel ban from Iceland to the U.S. was put in place by the White House in March. That expired on June 15, but a ban on entry for all foreign citizens from the EU/Schengen countries (including Iceland) remains in effect, according to the U.S. Embassy in Iceland. Iceland hasn’t reported more than five new cases in a single day in more than two months.

Husker coaches hope universities are able to bring international students back at the end of July. In the meantime, coaches have been in contact with Ouedraogo and Thorbjarnarson, who in the past have posted videos on social media of themselves working out.

Student-athletes on campus are undergoing voluntary workouts. Those end Wednesday, when the NCAA allows players to participate in enhanced in-person activities, weight training and conditioning.

Essentially, teams can meet over Zoom, go over film, do team-building, lift weights and run. That continues until July 19. On-court practices begin July 20 and last until the first day of classes or Sept. 15, whichever comes first.

Chris Heady covers Husker football and is the Nebraska men's basketball beat writer. He started at The World-Herald in 2017. Follow him on Twitter @heady_chris. Email: chris.heady@owh.com.

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