By Brian Rosenthal / Huskers.com
During one of his basketball recruiting visits to Nebraska, Nick Fuller listened as a couple of other recruits discussed their various injuries, arduous summer schedules and how many tournaments they had to sit out.
One player, keeping Fuller in the conversation, asked how many games he had missed that summer.
“Nick turned to him and said, ‘I’ve never missed a workout in my life,’ ” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said, recalling the scene. “I think that was, for me, one of those moments where you knew immediately what Nick was about, what he was shooting for and what he was going to do.
“He’s always been a rock for us.”
Fuller, a 6-foot-7, 213-pound forward from Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, became a dependable role player who would go to battle for his coaches and with his teammates, regardless the situation.
Fuller will treasure those moments as he prepares to spend his final season of eligibility playing for another program -- one that will appreciate Fuller’s attitude, work ethic and desire every bit as much as Nebraska did.
Fuller on Monday announced he is leaving Nebraska as a graduate transfer after recently coming to a mutual agreement during a meeting with Miles.
“I just want to thank the University of Nebraska, the fans and all my coaches and teammates for everything they’ve done for me,” Fuller said. “I’ve really enjoyed my time here.”
Fuller, who redshirted his first season with Nebraska, will graduate in May with a degree in management, making him eligible to spend his final season playing for another program while he pursues a graduate degree.
Miles said he and the rest of Nebraska’s coaches and teammates support Fuller.
“Everybody’s happy for him because he’s going to end up going to a place that needs him; he’ll have a chance to have some success, and he will adapt immediately,” Miles said. “He’ll have no trouble adapting to whatever system he goes in. He can be a valuable piece for another team. I want that for him, too.”
Fuller said he leaves Nebraska with no regrets and is appreciative of Miles, who presented Fuller with a framed Nebraska jersey, just like seniors receive on Senior Night.
“He’s been great,” Fuller said. “He’s somebody you can go up to and talk about anything and have a conversation. He really enjoys seeing younger guys improve, not only on the basketball court but improving in life and becoming a better person, and somebody that when you’re done with college, you’ll be a good man, a good husband, a good father someday.”
Fuller said he’s uncertain what type of graduate program he’ll pursue, but on the court, he’s looking for a team that can guarantee him more playing time.
As a junior, Fuller played in 15 games and logged 85 minutes. The opportunity for more minutes “was the biggest part” of Fuller’s decision, he said.
“Nick is the kind of guy who will run through a brick wall for you,” Miles said. “He was a loyal team guy to the program, to his teammates, to his coaches. I know I didn’t always give him the role that he hoped for, but at the same time, his dream and my dream were the same – we both wanted to be in the Big Ten, growing up as little kids. He was going to make the most of it, and I think he did.”
Miles pointed out the role Fuller played in Nebraska’s last victory of the season, 58-57 at Ohio State. Fuller, who scored two of his season’s 17 points in the game, teamed with Tai Webster to force a jump ball with 21.2 seconds remaining, with Nebraska trailing by two points.
“He was a key part of us winning that game,” Miles said.
Fuller had a few big-stage moments, including his redshirt freshman season, when he came off the bench to score a career-high 12 points to help Nebraska, a heavy underdog, battle No. 16 Maryland to the final minutes before falling 69-65 on the road.
“It was just a war,” Miles said, “and Nick was right in the middle of all of that.”
He also filled in admirably as a sophomore, when Nebraska lost senior standout Shavon Shields to a concussion midway through conference play.
Fuller redshirted during the 2013-14 season. He was named Lifter of the Year, adding nearly 20 pounds while lowering his body fat to 8.3 percent. He also increased his bench press by 35 pounds, his squat by 70 pounds and his standing vertical jump by 3 inches.
Fuller said his most memorable game – one during his redshirt season – was the famous “No-Sit Sunday” event with Wisconsin, the flagship school in Fuller’s home state.
"Nebraska’s really embraced me. I really love Lincoln, and the fan support is great,” Fuller said. “I’ll probably talk to some of these guys years after playing here. The relationships you build is the biggest thing and probably the hardest thing when you leave.”
Reach Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @GBRosenthal.