GRETNA — As Maddie Krull stood inside a Gretna gym to lead a youth basketball camp Friday, her passion and enthusiasm were genuine.
“This is one of my favorite things to do,” she said. “I truly love just teaching the game and jumping in drills with all of the kids as well. And it really doesn’t mean a lot to me that now with the NIL stuff we can make money because I would seriously do this for free.
“I just love helping these kids and I love their willingness to get better because I was once in their shoes. So when I can help them with something and see their eyes light up when they figure something out for the first time, I love it.”
And as she finds herself back on a basketball court in her home state, things have come full circle this summer for the former Millard South standout.
Krull transferred to Nebraska from South Dakota — where she was a two-year starter — in April. She’ll play this fall in Lincoln, something she dreamed of when she was a kid attending camps not unlike the one she hosted Friday.
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But for now, that can wait. This week, the newest Husker spent time giving back to the next wave of basketball players, some of whom might share that same dream.
“When I was the age of these kids at these camps, Nebraska was a big intrigue for me, and I’m sure it’s the same for a lot of these girls here,” Krull said. “Since we don’t have professional teams here, for me, Nebraska was always our sports team and the team that you watched.
“So that was where I developed the love for it and I always dreamed of it. And all throughout high school, I always had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to be a Husker. So the way that things worked out this summer, it was great.”
In two seasons at USD, Krull started all 60 games and made two NCAA Tournament appearances. Last year, the 5-foot-9 guard averaged 6.8 points per game and helped the Coyotes to the program’s first Sweet 16 berth.
Krull said she loved her time in Vermillion and admitted leaving was hard, especially with the relationships she had built there.
“I wouldn’t trade my experience with the way that it’s gone at all,” Krull said. “It’s a new chapter, and it’s an exciting one, but I don’t think I would have been ready for this chapter had I not had my two years at South Dakota and played with the people that I did and was coached by the people that I was coached by up there.”
And soon, the former top-100 recruit will get to live out her dream as a Husker.
“It’s hard to put that into words,” Krull said. “Especially when I think about games this season, especially home games. It is so important to look into the crowd and to see my parents and my family, and even friends and extended family, because all of that’s so important to me.
“I love sharing basketball with people that I love, so being in a spot where I’m able to do that is super exciting and just makes me even more ready for the season to start.”
Krull joins Amy Williams’ program with three years of eligibility remaining.
Several facets made Nebraska attractive, Krull said, but the chemistry, close-knit feel and genuine coaches were among the biggest draws. Along with that proximity to home and family.
She said the first workout with the Nebraska staff and seeing all of the banners around the gym “didn’t feel real” but she has since started to settle in with her new team. The same team she grew up rooting for and hoped to play for one day.
“When I got to put on the Nebraska jersey on picture day, I could just feel the excitement that this was real and that I had gotten myself to this point,” Krull said. “I’m so excited for this season and I think the most important thing besides the chemistry is how hungry each individual is.
“I think everyone is proud of what they accomplished last year, but I think everyone thinks we can do even more, and we all want to take this program to the next level. So when you enter a culture that’s like that, it’s hard not to be excited and it’s easy to feed off.”
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