In many ways, Brandon Lieb is a lot like me. He’s from Deerfield, he has a nice smile, and he doesn’t have much muscle definition. But while I’m a modest 5-foot-8, Lieb is a 7-foot, 210-pound center on a D-I basketball team.
Lieb didn’t have much playing time this year, only logging 12 minutes in 5 games. The most action he saw was against North Carolina A&T. Against the Aggies, Lieb recorded 4 points, 3 rebounds, a block, and made both of his free throws. He also played at the end of Illinois’ NCAA Tournament win over Drexel, in which he was arguably fouled during the act of shooting, but was not given free throws.
The Illini coaching staff has praised Lieb for his willingness to learn and the development he made in his freshman year. Toward the end of Brad Underwood’s press conference after Illinois’s loss to Loyola, beat writer Scott Richey asked Underwood about Ayo Dosunmu’s strength as a leader, even in defeat.
Underwood spoke of the effect that Ayo has had on the program’s culture, and he specifically mentioned three players that he believed would be leaders going forward. Those players were Adam Miller, Coleman Hawkins, and Lieb.
With Lieb’s frame, he’ll need to spend a lot of time with strength & conditioning Coach Adam Fletcher over the offseason. But if he puts the work in, there’s always room for a competent 7-footer on a college basketball roster.