Nebraska’s Isaiah Roby opts to stay in NBA draft. ‘I think I left PBA the right way’

Nebraska’s Isaiah Roby opts to stay in NBA draft. ‘I think I left PBA the right way’
Isaiah Roby averaged 11.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists during his Husker career. BRENDAN SULLIVAN/THE WORLD-HERALD

LINCOLN — Nebraska forward Isaiah Roby wasn’t sure what he’d do.

He’d impressed scouts at the NBA Combine, was climbing projections for the NBA Draft on June 20, getting all the help and encouragement he’d ever needed from new Nebraska head coach Fred Hoiberg. And still, on Tuesday afternoon, he was on the fence.

Roby met with his agent on Tuesday night, mulled it over, and on Wednesday around 1 p.m. decided, officially, to remain in the NBA draft. He announced the decision at 2 p.m. on Twitter.

“The whole process, I kinda just been increasing confidence,” Roby said. “I’ve always said if enough teams in a safe range, if they like me, that’ll be good. That range for me has been 25 to 45.”

Roby has a chance to become the first Husker drafted in 20 years. The last Husker selected was Venson Hamilton by the Houston Rockets in the 1999 draft. Roby said he doesn’t know the rules yet, so he declined to say what teams like him. But the list is long, he said.

From Dixon, Illinois, Roby played sparingly as a freshman but showed flashes of promise. His breakout season was in 2017-18, when he started 13 games, scoring 8.7 points with 6.3 rebounds. Roby shot 56.3% from the floor that year, helping Nebraska win 22 games.

As a junior, Roby started all 35 games, often playing the full 40 minutes if he wasn’t in foul trouble. His role expanded after forward Isaac Copeland went down with an injury. Roby extended his game beyond the 3-point line late in the season and led Nebraska on a surprising run through the Big Ten tournament and the NIT. He had impressive performances late, including 23 points and eight rebounds in a comeback win over Iowa and 28 points and eight rebounds against Butler in the NIT.

Roby finished with 11.8 points per game, 6.9 rebounds. 1.9 blocks, 1.9 assists and 1.3 steals as a junior.

“I’ve been an Isaiah Roby fan since he was 14 years old, when he looked like an overgrown puppy,” former head coach Tim Miles said, reached by phone. “Everyone sees greatness and potential in him. And everyone sees such an emotional and good person. I’m just happy and proud for him.”

With his 6-foot-8 frame and potential to play anywhere on the floor, Roby is projected to be a mid-to-late second-round pick. He was invited to a handful of workouts with NBA teams prior to the NBA combine, three of whom — the Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs and Minnesota Timberwolves — all have picks in the second round. Roby was one of 66 players invited to work out at the combine from May 15-17.

With his departure, Hoiberg now has 13 scholarship players. NU was one player over the NCAA limit before Roby’s announcement.

Nebraska will now return just two players from last season’s roster: juniors Thorir Thorbjarnarson and Dachon Burke. Hoiberg added 11 players to the roster in a little more than a month, seven of whom are transfers from other schools.

Roby finishes with 97 appearances in a Husker jersey. He started 52 games, averaging 11.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists for his career.

With Roby officially gone, Hoiberg’s roster is finally set in stone. Nebraska will have plenty of options to play at Roby’s power forward spot, including Matej Kavas, a 6-8 senior 3-point shooter; Kevin Cross, a 6-8, 240-pound freshman from Little Rock, Arkansas; and Yvan Ouedraogo, a 6-9, 260-pound freshman from France.

Roby said it hasn’t quite hit him that he won’t be returning to campus soon for workouts and won’t play at PBA anymore. After Nebraska’s final two home games, against Iowa in the regular season finale and against Butler in the NIT, Roby said he told friends he was proud if those were his final moments in front of Husker fans.

“I think I left PBA the right way,” Roby said. “It’s all been a dream come true. I’ve talked to a lot of friends, it’s like, it’s surreal. You’re living your childhood dreams and a lot of childhood dreams people don’t get to live. It probably won’t hit me until I get drafted. Just excited for it.”

Creighton’s Martin Krampelj will forgo his senior year of college, remain in NBA draft

After exploring basketball’s professional realm for the last several weeks, Creighton’s Martin Krampelj has decided he will forgo his final year of college eligibility and remain in the NBA draft.

Krampelj said on Twitter Wednesday afternoon that he’s thankful for the love and support from the Creighton community during his career and he’ll “always be grateful” for the chance to play for the Bluejays.

But playing professionally has always been his goal, according to Krampelj.

“My dream has been to play at the highest level ever since I can remember,” he wrote on Twitter. “After testing the waters and receiving valuable feedback, I have decided to remain in the 2019 NBA draft and pursue that dream.”

The news came just a few hours after senior-to-be Davion Mintz, who also declared for the draft, confirmed he’d return to Creighton for his senior year.

It’s not an unexpected move for Krampelj, who turned 24 in March and graduated in May. He’s battled back from three ACL tears during his career, too. And even if the 6-foot-9 forward does not get drafted or isn’t presented with an NBA free-agent deal, he’ll presumably have options overseas.

But his departure will raise some serious depth questions for the Jays’ frontcourt.

Sophomore-to-be Christian Bishop displayed growth late last year, and CU will return sophomore Jacob Epperson, who missed most of last season with back and knee injuries. But Epperson is expected to spend most of the offseason rehabbing. Freshman Samson Froling decided after last season to turn pro in his native Australia.

Bishop is currently the Jays’ only healthy scholarship player taller than 6-foot-6.

But in a recent interview with The World-Herald, coach Greg McDermott indicated that he and his coaching staff had formed potential contingency plans in the event Krampelj turned pro.

“You’re always keeping some irons in the fire — in case,” he said.

The Jays have reached out to Idaho State graduate transfer Kelvin Jones, according to Stadium’s Jeff Goodman. The 6-foot-11 Jones is reportedly set to take visits to Virginia Tech and Oregon State.

Replacing Krampelj’s production won’t be easy.

He emerged as maybe CU’s best player as the 2018-19 season progressed — he averaged 16.7 points and 8.2 rebounds during Big East action. His agility as a help defender against ball screens played a critical role in the improvement of Creighton’s defense.

But now he’s taking his skills to the professional level.

His hope is that his athleticism and jump shot will be appealing to teams in this new-age, pace-and-space style of play. Krampelj conducted workouts with the Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder over the past few weeks.

Mintz has spent the last month going through the draft process as well.

Mintz averaged 10.6 points per game against Big East competition and emerged as the Jays’ top perimeter defender last year, but his performances didn’t catch the attention of draft analysts and experts.

Still, the 6-foot-3 guard said he declared for the draft to get exposed to the process and pick up feedback on his game from additional sources. Mintz spent portions of the past month training with other NBA draft hopefuls at a facility in Indianapolis.

He’s currently the lone scholarship senior returning for the 2019-20 Jays, who will look to improve off last year’s 20-15 season.

Several national analysts were predicting that Creighton could be a preseason top 25 team next year. The Jays still will return six of their top seven scorers. But the outside expectations will likely change a bit now that Krampelj won’t be on the roster.

Creighton guard Davion Mintz will return for his senior season

CU rising senior Davion Mintz, who declared for the NBA draft last month, will return to Creighton for his final season of college basketball.

Mintz confirmed his decision with The World-Herald Wednesday morning before posting about his decision on Twitter. Stadium’s Jeff Goodman was the first to report the news.

It was the expected outcome for the 6-foot-3 point guard from Charlotte, N.C. Mintz averaged 10.6 points per game against league competition and emerged as the Jays’ top perimeter defender last year, but his performances didn’t catch the attention of draft analysts and experts.

He said he declared for the draft to get exposed to the process and pick up feedback on his game from additional sources. Mintz spent portions of the past month training with other NBA draft hopefuls at a facility in Indianapolis.

Mintz was one of two Bluejays testing the NBA draft waters.

Senior-to-be Martin Krampelj also sought feedback on his professional profile — he has yet to announce his intentions for next year. The deadline to withdrawal and retain college eligibility is Wednesday.

Krampelj’s status might also be uncertain beyond this week since the Slovenia native could be courted by European basketball franchises when they begin filling their rosters in earnest later this summer.

If Krampelj and Mintz were both to return, Creighton would be bringing back its top seven scorers from a season ago. The prospective roster retention is why several national analysts have viewed CU as a potential preseason top 25 team for the 2019-20 campaign.

The Jays will have improvements to make, though. They finished in a tie for third in a down Big East last season and they missed out on earning an NCAA tournament berth. CU finished 20-15 after reaching the NIT quarterfinals.

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