(P.M. UPDATE: AGAU HAS REPORTEDLY ANNOUNCED THAT HE’S STAYING AT OMAHA CENTRAL FOR HIS SENIOR YEAR.)
As an Omaha basketball fanatic, it crushes me to hear that Akoy Agau may transfer to a Maryland prep school.
He’s likely one of the nation’s top 50 recruits — Nebraska’s first of that caliber in two decades. More important: He’s the anchor of what could be the most dominant team in state history.
(Needless to say, Agau leaving now would basically ruin any hope of Nebraska signing him.)
The situation reeks of an athlete craving attention, a kid who’d rather play on ESPN than stand by his friends and do something nobody in Nebraska has ever done — start on four Class A state championship teams.
Agau, who apparently received some backlash over the weekend, ranted on Twitter Saturday night about how he hates the state. He used words he shouldn’t.
It’s easy to blast the kid for what’s happening. He could be abandoning his coaches and teammates right before an historic season.
I also think Akoy is in a situation to which most kids can’t relate. He has an opportunity most kids don’t get. He wants more than state championships — he wants to play in the NBA. And there’s no doubt he’ll improve more quickly facing De La Salle than he will facing Millard South (sorry Patriots, I had to pick somebody).
I look at Agau’s game and see a lot of positives. His defensive prowess is rare for someone so young. I also see offensive deficiencies that he’s been slow to correct. Perhaps he can make that jump at Montrose Academy.
If he leaves, part of him will always regret it. Because it won’t be easy coming back to Omaha. Agau was born in Sudan, moved to Egypt when he was 7, then to Maryland 18 months later. At 10, he came to Omaha. His friends and fans here won’t look at him the same way. And if he’s human, that will always sting.
But I’m not sure high school seniors worry about that stuff.
Agau’s world has grown. He sees his peers as 6-foot-7 blue-chips from the East Coast, not kids from Bryan and Benson. And at some point during this process, I imagine someone told Akoy that he can be great only if he takes a bold step.
Omaha isn’t home as much as a place he’s already conquered.
My advice: Slow down, big fella. Your dreams aren’t going anywhere. And the memories you’ll make at Central this year will be with you longer than a few dunks on ESPN.
>> As the petty cynic I am, I poke fun at all sorts of things in sports. Husker football is no different. But one tradition I can’t get enough of is Nebraska coaches handing out scholarships to walk-ons. It may be the purest, coolest thing left in college football.
The thought of Husker guard Seung Hoon Choi earning a scholarship, walking off the practice field and calling his parents in South Korea (where it was 4 a.m.) is enough to give me chills. Congrats to Choi, Justin Blatchford and Justin Jackson — Spencer Long and Brett Maher earned scholarships earlier this summer.
The irony: In order to get these shining moments, players like Aaron Green, Tyler Moore and Ryan Klatchko needed to leave the program. There’s that petty cynicism again…
>> I presented the question Friday: What’s the best Nebraska offensive line since 2001? What line best resembled the old pipelines?
Most people voted for 2006 or 2010. But what about 2008? Matt Slauson and Lydon Murtha on the right side; Keith Williams and Mike Smith (or Jaivorio Burkes) on the left; Jacob Hickman at center.
Whether it’s ’06, ’08, ’10 or another year, the Huskers need the 2012 offensive line to be close to that level.
>> Pat Forde, who writes about college football as well as anyone, doesn’t have Nebraska in his preseason top 25.
>> Augusta National admitted two woman members this morning. About dang time. Now the big question becomes, do they have to build red tee boxes?
>> Among the bonehead quarterback moves in the NFL this offseason, two stand out. The New York Jets picked up Tim Tebow, thus turning that franchise into an even larger soap opera.
The other, unfortunately, happened to my favorite team: the Washington Redskins. The Robert Griffin draft pick was wonderful. The Kirk Cousins pick was not. The last thing you want is fans (and media members) planting a seed in RG3’s head that Cousins might take his job. It doesn’t help that Cousins is more mature than most congressmen.
If Mike Shanahan — at any point this season — pulls RG3 in favor of Cousins, I’m buying a Cowboys shirt.
>> Who did Cousins hit for a touchdown pass Saturday night? Niles Paul, who overcame two drops to catch four balls.
>> I’m hearing almost nothing from Patriots camp about Alfonzo Dennard. The former Husker corner, who fell all the way to the seventh round in April’s draft, is battling a groin injury and may not make the roster.
>> I have no idea what’s going on in tennis. Six months ago, Roger Federer looked like a man who’d won his last Grand Slam. Now Rafa Nadal will miss the final two majors with knee problems. And Novak Djokovic, who got drubbed by Fed Sunday in Cincinnati, is a shell of the star who dominated 2011. Who would’ve thought Federer’s top challenger for the US Open would be Andy Murray?
>> Jonathan Hargett, a former high school basketball star, is in jail for drug dealing. Pete Thamel details his demise. Amazing story.