What Charlotte Hornets gets with Bryce McGowens of Nebraska

When there was a wall, Bryce McGowens never hit it as a freshman in Nebraska this year.

McGowens is the highest-rated candidate in school history in the state of Pendleton. Top ten leaderboard. As hopes for a long turnaround were dashed, Nebraska won consecutive road games in Penn State, Ohio and Wisconsin to end the main season.

McGowens struck Nittany Lions with a 25-point effort, then struck Buckeyes 26, dominating the lead.

Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg said his season-long recovery marks a bright future for McGowens. McGowens is headed to Charlotte, who acquired him in a deal with Minnesota, which placed him 40th overall in the 2022 NBA Draft.

“He has a lot of gains and is a much better shooter than his percentage showed,” said Hoiberg, coach of the Chicago Bulls from 2015-2018. “He struggled with physical fitness at the beginning of the year, but by the end of the year, he had done a really great job playing through contact.

“Our victory in Ohio was incredible. He’s a three-level goal scorer, that’s for sure.

McGowens finished third among freshmen with 16.8 points. His 17.3-point average in the Big Ten was the highest by a fresh player after D’Angelo Russell’s single season in Ohio in 2014-2015.

McGowens hit the field with 40.3 percent and a three-point throw with 27.4 percent. He hit 83.1 percent of his free throws, hitting more strokes from the line than any other newcomer in the country.

Hoiberg said the versatility of McGowens’ attack style is also good for the NBA.

“His ability to continue to play through contact during the season is directly related to his work ethic in the weight room,” said Hoiberg. “And it only gets stronger. It has a great frame. It adds size very easily as it develops.

In fact, according to Hoiberg, the coach was most impressed by McGowens’ commitment to improving his strength at the age of 19. At the peak of the college season, McGowens continued to work to find time for at least five sessions a week in the gym.

“It showed that he understands what he has to do to take his game to the next level,” Hoiberg said. “He changed his body during the season. Sometimes it’s hard to attract (young) boys to it. He saw how useful it was, so you don’t have to force him to understand the importance of weight.

Both of McGowens’ parents played college basketball. Older’s brother Trey played for two seasons in Nebraska and shared the pitch with Bryce in 2021-22. The younger McGowens, named by the Associated Press as the big ten newcomers of the year, was voted the freshest player of the week eight times in 2021-22.

“She is a world-class child,” Hoiberg said. “There are no problems with Bryce. You never have to worry about him off the floor.

The biggest question? His protection.

McGowens has the athleticism and physical tools to grow into a strong defender. Hoiberg saw the signs in his one-time season in Nebraska.

“It’s an adaptation for everyone who gets into the (NBA),” Hoiberg said. “You play against the best athletes in the world, especially in his position. It’s something he has to work on and grow.

“But he was much better at the end of the year than at the beginning.”

It was a topic that touched on McGowens’ entire skill arsenal.

(Photo: Steven Branscombe / USA Today)


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