Tai Webster’s eligibility could be key to Nebraska ascending in the Big Ten

Nebraska moved into a first-class practice facility in 2011 and will unveil a sparkling, $179 million basketball arena this fall. Now the Huskers are starting to assemble a roster worthy of playing in their state-of-the-art facilities.

Promising freshman guard Tai Webster, a standout for New Zealand during the 2012 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, was ruled eligible to play for the Huskers this seaso by the NCAA this week. The 6-foot-4 Webster will likely start at point guard for Nebraska and has a chance to be an impact player immediately.

Largely unknown to U.S. colleges prior to last summer's Olympic qualifying tournament, Webster emerged as one of the most exciting young talents in international basketball by averaging a team-high 13.5 points per game against much more experienced competition. The 17-year-old lit up Angola for 21 in one particularly impressive performance, burying a trio of threes and also showing an ability to get to the rim.

The result of that breakout tournament was interest from numerous high-major Division I schools including NC State, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt and Virginia. Nebraska landed him from amongst that group thanks to the efforts of head coach Tim Miles and assistant Chris Harriman, an Australia native and one of the most connected recruiters in the region.

If Webster's performance last season is any indication, he should provide badly needed perimeter scoring for the Huskers. He averaged 18.5 points and 4.4 assists for the Waikato Pistons in New Zealand's Basketball league, though he struggled at times with turnovers and shot just 28.1 percent from behind the arc.

Regardless, Webster is one of many reasons for optimism for a long-struggling Nebraska program that has never won an NCAA tournament game and is coming off a 15-18 season in year one in the Big Ten.

The Huskers already built first-class facilities, plucked an assistant coach from Georgetown and added a pair of solid transfers in Walter Pitchford (Florida) and Terran Petteway (Texas Tech). Now they also have their point guard of the future as well.

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