Husker notes: Huskers officially announce Armon Gates as new men’s basketball assistant

Husker notes: Huskers officially announce Armon Gates as new men’s basketball assistant
Armon Gates helped lead Northwestern its first NCAA tournament berth and victory. (Northwestern Athletics)

Nebraska officially announced the hiring of Armon Gates as the new men’s basketball assistant at a press conference Monday afternoon.

The Chicago native was named associate head coach at Florida on April 8, but ultimately decided that he wanted to be in Lincoln.

“I really enjoyed my brief time at Florida,” Gates said in a press release. “Coach Mike White and his staff are tremendous people and great friends. Last week, I consulted Coach White about approaching Tim Miles regarding the Nebraska coaching position. After visiting Lincoln and the campus, it became clear to me Nebraska was a great fit. … I am really looking forward to a new beginning at Nebraska.”

Gates spent five seasons under Chris Collins at Northwestern, leading the Wildcats to both their first NCAA tournament berth and March Madness victory.

“I have known Armon for several years and spent quality time with him,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said in a press release. “What immediately becomes clear about him is his positivity and high energy. He will be a good role model for our players. He will be an excellent teacher of the game and will do a phenomenal job recruiting, as he’s proven over the years.”

Prior to Northwestern, Gates spent two years at Loyola of Chicago during Porter Moser’s first two seasons. He also spent time with TCU (2010-11), Kent State (2008-10) and Western Kentucky (2007-08).

When he ended his playing days at Kent State in 2006, Gates was second in program history with 200 3-pointers.

He replaces Kenya Hunter, who left to join Dan Hurley’s staff at UConn.

Tim Miles says James Palmer, Isaac Copeland likely to return to Huskers for senior years

LINCOLN — Nebraska basketball coach Tim Miles likes his chances to have All-Big Ten picks James Palmer and Isaac Copeland back for their senior seasons.

 “I’d say it’s more likely they come back than they go (professional),’’ Miles said Monday.

Neither Palmer, a first-team all-conference choice, nor Copeland, an honorable mention selection, was invited to the NBA draft combine May 16-20. Participation in that event — 69 players were picked — often translates into a much higher likelihood of being taken in the 60-player, two-round draft.

The lack of a combine invite, however, doesn’t mean the two Huskers are being ignored by NBA teams.

Palmer, who averaged 17.2 points a game, worked out last Friday for Boston and Saturday for Oklahoma City. Miles said the 6-foot-6 wing will visit the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.

The 6-9 Copeland, who averaged 12.9 points and 6.1 rebounds, has workouts lined up next week with Boston and Milwaukee. Miles said Cleveland and Houston among others have inquired about both players.

The World-Herald reported two weeks ago that initial evaluations of Palmer, Copeland and sophomore forward Isaiah Roby from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee indicated all three were considered candidates to go late in the second round or to be undrafted.

Palmer and Copeland then officially entered the draft process without hiring agents, which means they can withdraw by May 30 and return to Nebraska without penalty. Roby chose not to file for the draft.

Casual fans sometimes misinterpret a player’s declaration for the NBA draft as proof that he won’t come back.

That isn’t true, which is why Miles said he prefers the phrase “testing the waters.’’

“This is great for us,’’ Miles said. “It allows players to go out and test the waters for the NBA.

“For these guys to get workouts against other elite-level talent and get feedback really helps them. What’s great is it usually isn’t very different from what we’re telling them. Sometimes it depends on what you hear.’’

Nebraska hasn’t had a player drafted since Big 12 player of the year Venson Hamilton went in the second round to the Houston Rockets in 1999.