Gus Yalden has lived all over the country, but his roots in Nebraska have stuck with him his entire life.
A four-star recruit rated the No. 21 overall player in the 2023 class, Yalden was born in Maryland, spent part of his adolescence in Wisconsin, and has attended high schools in California and now Florida.
But from the time he was a baby up until he was in fifth grade, the 6-foot-8, 240-pound power forward lived in Kearney, Neb.
His mother was the head coach of the University of Nebraska Kearney women’s basketball team from 2002-10, and his grandparents still reside in Kearney. He even has cousins who own a house on Johnson Lake.
So when the standout prospect lined up a long list of unofficial college visits for the June recruiting period, it makes sense that Nebraska was his first stop.
“It was awesome,” Yalden said. “I’ve been on college campuses before, but this was my first visit. Oh my gosh, it was fun. It was super great to be out there. I can’t wait to come back in the fall for a football game.
“Coach (Fred) Hoiberg showed me and my mom a great time, and the staff was amazing. It was just awesome.”
Already being dubbed as “Baby Jokic” because of his similarities to Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic, Yalden holds other offers Wisconsin, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida State, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Missouri, Oklahoma, Rutgers, Stanford, TCU, Utah, and West Virginia.
Gonzaga, Wisconsin, Virginia, and Rutgers have been the other schools in the most contact. He also has unofficial visits lined up for Iowa State, Iowa, Butler, Marquette, and Wisconsin.
But his reasoning for wanting to visit Nebraska first went beyond his family ties to the state. Yalden said the Husker staff had recruited him as long as anyone, which developed into a strong relationship since earning an NU offer last July.
“Part of it was location, but part of it was that Nebraska was one of the first schools that started to recruit me,” Yalden said. “I’m really glad I got the chance to come out here and take a visit.”
The connections don’t stop there between Yalden and the Huskers, either.
Yalden and NU freshman Wilhelm Breidenbach were teammates for a year in 2019-20 when Yalden was a freshman and Breidenbach was a junior.
Even though they only played together for a year, Yalden said he and Breidenbach had a good friendship to this day.
“Heck yeah,” Yalden answered when asked if he was still close with Breidenbach. “I saw him today and afterward told my mom that I hadn’t seen Wil in forever. It was great to see him, and it brought back a ton of memories that we have together.”
While Yalden is in no rush to make a college decision, he said he was looking for the usual selling points in his future school. He wants strong academics, a family atmosphere, and a program where he could win and develop his game for the next level.
It’s still early, but Yalden said Hoiberg’s coaching track record and his work to rebuild Nebraska’s roster had definitely caught his attention.
“Yeah, it’s super appealing,” Yalden said. “He’s probably got one of the better resumes in college basketball. I know that he had a tough job to start with (at Nebraska), but now he’s on a roll, and he’s going to make Nebraska a great program.”