Published Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 3:58 pm / Updated at 11:18 am
BASKETBALL
'Complete guard' Tai Webster signs with NU

LINCOLN — A tired but happy Tim Miles took a few moments Tuesday to feel good about adding New Zealand guard Tai Webster to the Nebraska men's basketball recruiting class of 2013.

“It's done. It's good. And we need him,” Miles said. “The thing I like about Tai is that he isn't just a point guard or isn't just a shooting guard. He's a complete guard.

“He can play with another point guard or with another two-guard because he can handle it and drive it and score it.”

In the future, Miles said, his ideal lineup would be three combo guards with one who is long and athletic enough to guard an opposing wing.

Webster, at 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, gives him a good start. ESPN ranks the 17-year-old as a four-star recruit and the No. 29 point guard in the 2013 class.

Besides high school ball, Webster has played with the New Zealand national team. He averaged 13.5 points a game in the 2012 FIBA Olympic qualifying tournament and shot 62.5 percent from 3-point range.

“He has high-level international experience, which will help him acclimate to basketball in the U.S.,” Miles said.

Webster still has high school academic work to finish. He returned to New Zealand on Tuesday with his parents after a three-day visit to Lincoln, and he won't come back to enroll at NU until next summer. Miles said Webster has commitments to the national team and some non-contracted work with a professional league this spring.

Webster picked Nebraska over Pittsburgh, Virginia, Wake Forest, St. Mary's, SMU and LSU.

Husker assistant Chris Harriman, an Australia native, had Webster high on his recruiting list when hired by Miles from Saint Louis.

“Chris followed him,” Miles said. “Tai started playing really well in the late spring and early summer, and exploded on the scene.”

Harriman twice and Miles once visited New Zealand, watching Webster practice with his high school team. He led his team to the national secondary schools championship.

Webster is NU's third recruit for 2013. He joins 6-7 forward Nick Fuller from Sun Prairie, Wis., and 6-5 guard Nate Hawkins from Rowlett, Texas. Next year, they will join three players sitting out this season — 6-0 redshirt junior guard Deverell Biggs from Omaha; 6-6 sophomore Texas Tech transfer Terran Pettaway; and 6-10 sophomore Florida transfer Walter Pitchford.

Nebraska has two scholarships remaining for next year and would have just one more available for 2014 under the current roster. Miles has said he is still seeking a big man to recruit for next season.

Contact the writer: Lee Barfknecht

lee.barfknecht@owh.com    |   402-444-1024    |  

Lee Barfknecht has won nine national writing awards from four separate organizations, and is a 12-time winner of the Nebraska sportswriter of the year award. He covers Big Ten football and basketball, Nebraska basketball and other college financial issues for The World-Herald.

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