Sharpshooter Keisei Tominaga plans to return to Huskers

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Nebraska basketball’s sharpshooting guard and fan favorite, Keisei Tominaga, announced he’s returning to college basketball to play his sixth and final year.

Following Nebraska’s 2022-23 season in which it finished 16-16 and saw a first-round exit from the Big Ten Conference tournament in Chicago, Tominaga wanted to test the NBA’s interest in him, so he entered his name as an early entrant for the 2023 NBA Draft while retaining his college eligibility.

Tominaga, a 6-foot-2 guard, needed to make a decision on whether or not to withdraw his name from the draft pool and return to college basketball by the May 31 deadline.

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Tominaga worked out for the Indiana Pacers this week.

Tominaga enjoyed a breakout 2022-23 season for the Huskers, averaging 13.1 points per game while shooting 40 percent from 3-point range (66-of-165) and 86 percent from the free-throw line (46-of-53). He really kicked things into high gear toward the end of the season, scoring at least 20 points in seven of the final nine games, including a 30-point performance against Penn State in early February.

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With Tominaga back in the fold, Nebraska returns its top scoring guard, and he’ll join new additions from the transfer portal next season. The Huskers gained the commitments of four transfers this offseason, including guards Brice Williams (Charlotte) and Ahron Ulis (Iowa), as well as forwards Rienk Mast (Bradley) and Josiah Allick (Kansas City, New Mexico).

Following a win over Minnesota last season, members of the Japanese media in attendance at the post game press conference asked head coach Fred Hoiberg what Tominaga needed to do to reach his goal of playing in the NBA.

“You look at what the league is all about right now — analytics, shooting, floor spacing.Those players are so good, there’s more room in the NBA, more space. And if you can shoot it at a high level, you’re going to have a chance,” Hoiberg responded. “The biggest challenge for Keisei is the size. And that’s something where, some guys have made it if they’re specialists. And we’ve talked a lot about this — Keisi is more than just a shooter. You see his cutting, his IQ, the way he competes. So I think strength and his body, those are things that he’ll have to continue to work on. … Never count out a competitor, never count out a guy who can make shots, and that’s what Keisei can do.”

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What’s the area he’s improved the most? Right away, Hoiberg pointed to that improved defense.

“When you go from junior college to major college basketball, Power Five basketball, that is the biggest adjustment, and he struggled at times with that last year, but he’s competing,” Hoiberg said. “He’s really good at chasing guys off screens — that’s where we really try to get him matched up this year, and he’s made a big jump there. And off-the-dribble, I think his off-the-dribble has been really good this season.”

During a recent appearance on Huskers Radio Network, Hoiberg said the team’s strength staff really went to work with Tominaga, creating specialized workout and nutrition plans for him. According to Hoiberg, Tominaga has already gained noticeably good weight.

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“You’re not going to recognize Keisei right now,” Hoiberg said. “We put a very intensive program together for him because he leaves for his national team in the middle of June, so we tried to put as much weight and strength on Keisei. He looks great.”

With Tominaga officially returning, Nebraska has 11 of the 13 allowed scholarships filled. Two spots remain open. Here’s a look at the scholarship distribution chart:

Former Huskers who have entered the portal:
>> Oleg Kojenets (transferred to Wyoming)
>> Denim Dawson (transferred to Tennessee State)
>> Quaran McPherson (transferred to Northern Illinois)
>> Wilhelm Breidenbach

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