Logan Strom and Brett Barney are on opposite paths that will converge at UNO this fall.
The former is a Nebraska native on his way home to play out his college basketball career. The latter is leaving home to finish his eligibility, hoping that his relocation leads to an opportunity for playing time.
The transfers add depth to a Maverick frontcourt that features sophomore-to-be Matt Pile as its only true post player. Barney, who spent the past three years as a walk-on at Wichita State, is eligible to play this fall while Strom will have to sit out an NCAA-mandated transfer year after redshirting at UC Davis.
The 6-foot-8 former Norfolk standout will have three seasons of eligibility remaining. Barney, a 6-9 Wichita native, has two left after spending a year at prep school before redshirting as a WSU freshman.
Both are familiar with UNO’s current players. Strom knows the local Mavs, and Barney visited recently.
“When I came up on my visit and played with them, I just really liked how hard they played,” Barney said from Wichita. “They seem like they want to win. I think this team, coming into this situation, has a very good chance of making the (NCAA) tournament. I feel like everybody kind of has the same common goal.”
Barney knows a little about NCAA tourney teams. He was a member of three with the Shockers. But the reserve center saw only 53 minutes of action over the past two seasons, prompting him to leave.
“Wichita State was a great place for me,” he said. “It grew me as a player, and I developed so much. But I just kind of came to a point where I just wanted to go somewhere and play to finish my career off. I’ve got two years left. That’s how that all ended. It had nothing to do with Wichita State. They’re great people here, but I just felt like it was time for me to go do my own thing and be able to play a little bit.”
Strom never had a chance to play at UC Davis, but felt a move home was in his best interest. He talked about a possible transfer with family over Christmas break, then got his release on Thursday.
“After my freshman year here, I just wanted to get back around family and friends,” he said from California. “I wanted to get back in that environment again and play for something meaningful around my support system.”
Strom, who won a Class A championship as a senior at Norfolk, said he considered UNO “pretty heavily” before committing to UC Davis. He spent his freshman season there getting physically ready for the demands of Division I basketball. He’ll have another year to do so in Omaha.
“Adapting to basketball at the college level is a totally different animal,” he said. “Every day, competing at the Division I level is tough. Coming into it, what you expect isn’t really how it goes. You just kind of roll with the punches and learn what’s best for yourself. And I think that coming home and going to Omaha is what was best for me at this time. There was an immediate connection right off the bat.”
While Strom has more time to develop before taking the court for the Mavs, Barney hopes to make an impact right away as a leader at UNO. Having spent a year at prep school Sunrise Christian Academy before redshirting as a freshman at Wichita State, the junior-to-be will be 23 before the season begins.
“I feel like I’m a mature player,” he said. “I bring that part to the table.”
The former Shocker said building a winning program with the right mentality works everywhere.
“Just being around that type of atmosphere every single day and practicing with those guys, you couldn’t do anything but get better,” Barney said. “That was kind of the mindset around Wichita State. Every single day it’s got to be a good day. You had to find a way to perform every day and get better.”