Lincoln — The Nebraska basketball program received a major boost for the 2018-19 campaign over the Memorial Day weekend, as James Palmer Jr. and Isaac Copeland Jr. both announced they were withdrawing from the 2018 NBA Draft and returning to the Husker program for their senior campaigns.
Both Palmer and Copeland garnered All-Big Ten honors for the Huskers in 2017-18, and their return gives seventh-year Head Coach Tim Miles one of the most experienced rosters he’s had during his tenure at Nebraska. In all, the Huskers return five players who made at least 13 starts for NU in 2017-18 and 10 returning letterwinners.
Palmer, a 6-foot-6, 210-pound guard was a first-team All-Big Ten pick by the conference coaches and a first-team all-district honoree by the NABC and USBWA in his first season as a Husker. Palmer finished fifth in the Big Ten in scoring at 17.2 points per game, while also adding 4.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.0 steals per game. The Upper Marlboro, Md., native reached double figures in 31 of 33 games during the 2017-18 campaign, including eight 20-point efforts. Palmer scored a career-high 34 points against No. 13 Ohio State and had 28 points at Wisconsin and against Iowa. He finished Big Ten play averaging 18.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game, ranking third in scoring and 11th in assists.
Palmer is the just the fifth returning first-team All-conference player Nebraska has had in the last 40 years, joining Andre Smith (1980), Dave Hoppen (1984, 1985), Eric Piatkowski (1993) and Terran Petteway (2014).
Copeland, a 6-foot-9, 221-pound forward from Raleigh, N.C., provided a major impact in his first season at Nebraska, earning honorable-mention All-Big Ten honors from both the coaches and the media. On the season, he averaged 12.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game. He was second on the team in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots and had three double-doubles on the year. Copeland reached double figures 23 times, including a season-high 30 points against North Dakota. In conference action, he averaged 13.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game, ranking among the Big Ten leaders in 3-point percentage (.429, fifth), scoring (23rd), rebounding (17th) and blocks (14th). Copeland is NU’s most experienced player, as he has played 106 games at the Division I level, including 82 career starts between his time at Nebraska and Georgetown.
Nebraska also brings back three-year starter Glynn Watson Jr., who averaged 10.5 points per game along with a team-high 3.2 assists per game. It marks the first time since the 1992-93 season that the Huskers returned a trio of double-figure performers. In addition, NU also returns Isaiah Roby (8.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.0 bpg, 13 starts), Jordy Tshimanga (4.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 18 starts) and Thomas Allen (3.2 ppg).
In all, Nebraska returns 79 percent of its scoring as well as 74 percent of its rebounding and 75 percent of its assists from a team that went 22-10 and finished fourth in the Big Ten with a 13-5 conference mark.
The home schedule is highlighted by a 10 Big Ten tilts, including matchups with Michigan State, Purdue, Maryland and Ohio State, along with a non-conference slate which includes home games against Seton Hall and Creighton. Fans can get on the Husker basketball ticket wait list by visiting Huskers.com/Tickets to sign up before season tickets go on sale once the final schedule is released.