The Right Combination

Callin Hake’s Playing Style Fits the Husker Mold

Story by Shane G. Gilster • Courtesy photos

The Nebraska women’s basketball team likes to use interchangeable parts to play fast on offense and pressure the ball on defense, and it’s effectively recruiting players who fit the machine.

The latest player to be tabbed by the Huskers to fit the system is 5-foot-8 guard Callin Hake.

“She is going to be a versatile guard who can bring a lot of things to our team on the basketball court,” said NU coach Amy Williams. “I love that she is committed to playing hard on both ends of the court. Not only is Callin the perfect fit for us on the court, but she fits our family. She is not afraid to work and understands how to be a great teammate.”

Hake is currently a senior at Chanhassen, a 4A high school – the state’s largest for basketball – in suburban Minneapolis. After committing to NU in July of 2020, Hake signed her National Letter of Intent with the Huskers on Nov. 10. She’s set to join NU for the 2022-23 season.

“Nebraska really fits my style of play,” Hake said. “They are penetrating and then kicking it out and getting after it on defense, turning it into easy buckets. I like to pressure the heck out of everyone and want my on-ball defense to consistently keep getting better. I will talk it up on defense believing in chaos and noise as the best way to throw off your opponent.”

Among the first things Williams said to Hake was that she liked her heart and passion. “That just spoke to me because it’s true,” Hake said. “That can carry you a long way because you can’t teach those things.”

Hake brings impressive credentials as the No. 7 player in Minnesota and the No. 64 player in the nation by Prep Girls Hoops. Hake is already Chanhassen’s career scoring leader, having played on the varsity level as an eighth-grader, and is poised to hit 2,000 career points.

Hake started playing high school basketball as an eighth-grader.
Hake started playing high school basketball as an eighth-grader.

She averaged more than 20 points a game as a freshman, sophomore and junior. Hake also played for the Minnesota Fury, a highly competitive AAU program.

Hake’s high school coach calls her “the best player by far that we have had in our program.”

“She is the hardest worker that I have ever seen in high school or college in my coaching and playing career,” said Chanhassen coach Kayla Walsh, who played one college season at Iowa. “She has always been our go-to guard and can really do it all at either point or on the wing. She is the first one in the gym and last one to leave. She is always in the weight room and does personal film sessions with me. The sky is the limit for her.”

Hake uses strength and tenacity to be a factor on both ends. Walsh described her as a lockdown defender with a great ability to drive and finish. But that’s not all. Walsh said Hake can hit from mid-range and from 3-point range. Plus, her basketball IQ is top-notch.

“She is a natural leader, being a two-year captain for us,” Walsh continued. “She is a natural coach and could run practices for us if she had to. She is always calm, cool and collected. You are never going to see her eye-rolling or getting upset.”

Walsh believes Hake’s speed and quickness is Big Ten caliber and that her work ethic will have her in position to play early. “Nebraska is big on family and Hake has that whole mindset,” Walsh said. “They are a close-knit team with coaches that are supportive.”

Nebraska has had success recruiting Minnesota. Sam Haiby, Annika Stewart and Kendall Coley all have turned out to be good Husker fits after moving south. In particular, the versatile Haiby is a prime example upon whom NU would like Hake to model her game.

“We are fortunate right now where we have a lot of kids who are capable of playing that point-guard position,” Williams said. “But in certain situations and circumstances like set plays, we have some kids who can run the point position. Sam has the ability to go back and forth for us so we can have multiple point guards on the court at the same time.”

Hake’s background and upbringing has enabled her to be a flexible player with an all-around skill-set.

Hake’s parents both went to Wartburg College in Iowa, where her mom was a track-and-field athlete and her dad played football. Her parents had her play almost every sport available at the youth level, and her dad coached her in basketball since the second grade.

But Hake credits soccer as the sport that improved her game most. In fact, she liked soccer more than basketball until seventh grade when that feeling switched.

“I fell in love with the physicality and speed of the game of basketball,” she said. “Soccer made me a better basketball player because of the technicality, focus and IQ you need with soccer. The foot skills in soccer increased my footwork on the basketball court.”

On the academic side, Hake plans to major in marketing with a minor in biology. Her plan is to someday go into medical sales.

“The university provides endless opportunities that other schools in the Midwest do not have,” Hake said. “Nebraska checked all my boxes for me and my family. The coaching staff and the team’s character are unbelievable. You can just tell the girls on the team are best friends on and off the court.”

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Ted Kirk is a Lincoln-based photographer who has been a photojournalist since 1970. The Sioux Falls, South Dakota, native covered Nebraska Athletics from 1973 through 2018. During that span he covered thousands of Husker Athletic competitions around the United States. His work is being donated to the University of Nebraska Library Photo Archive.

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