MBB: Nebraska frontcourt preview

After delivering major improvement between his sophomore and junior years, Brandon Ubel will be asked to improve even more this season.

As a junior last season, Brandon Ubel started all 30 games for the Huskers, averaging 6.7 points and 5.3 rebounds. This year, he will be asked to be more of a scoring threat and take on a greater on-court leadership role as a senior.

"I think Brandon Ubel is doing a really good job," said Nebraska assistant coach Chris Harriman. "We have been on him pretty hard about becoming more of a leader. It's a thing where if you don't have a rudder, your boat is just going to go in circles. He's really impressed with how hard he's worked and how he's stepped up in the leadership role."

If Ubel plays the power forward position, it's likely Sergei Vucetic or Andre Almeida start at the center spot. Almedia sat out last season to recover from a knee injury, after averaging 5.2 points and 3.3 rebounds a game in 14 minutes a game in 2010-11.

Vucetic played at Aim Prep (Michigan) last season and averaged 19 points and 14 rebounds a game. The freshman chose Nebraska over offers from Providence, Evansville, Valpo, and Marquette. Deemed a project, the Serbian center will get on the job training this season.

"He's an unbelievably grateful kid. He's never been given anything in his life. He's very appreciative for ever opportunity. I think one of the issues in college basketball these days is everyone feels entitled," said Harriman. "The kid is really going to work everyday. He was over here in a prep school and really not in great condition. But he has really great touch, feel for the game, and I think if you can put him with a coach like Coach Miles, who's know to develop guys, he could become a gem for us down the road. It's just going to take time."

Sitting out in 2012-13 will be Texas Tech transfer Terran Petteway and Florida transfer Walter Pitchford. The two have the potential to be all-conference players at Nebraska and will both have three years of eligibility starting next season. Petteway made 11 starts for the Red Raiders, averaging 3.3 points and 2.1 rebounds per game last year. Pitchford made 13 appearances as a true freshman for the Gators in 2011-12.

"Terrrann is obviously really good. I think he's got a hell of a chance to be a good player," said Harriman. "Walt is really starting to understand who he really is. So many of these bigs are nowadays enamored playing on the perimeter, but he's good on the block. He's big and strong, he quick and athletic, he's really got Big Ten size."

Depth Chart:

5.) Terran Petteway, 6-foot-6/195 pounds, So.
The Texas Tech transfer will sit out in 2012-13.

11.) Jordan Tyrance, 6-foot-3/195 pounds, So.
Lincoln Southwest walk-on played in two games last season.

13.) Brandon Ubel, 6-foot-10/235 pounds, Sr.
Will be asked to be more of a scoring threat this season.

14.) Sergej Vucetic, 7-foot/236 pounds, Fr.
Serbian big man could be asked to play big minutes.

32.) Andre Almeida, 6-foot-11/310 pounds, Sr.
Will his knees hold up to give the Huskers quality minutes?

35.) Walter Pitchford, 6-foot-10/231 pounds, So.
Florida transfer has a Big Ten body, but won't be eligible this year.

44.) Kye Kurkowski, 6-foot-10/212 pounds, So.
Walk-on made two appearances in last season.

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