Welcome to “Good Morning, Illini Nation,” your every day dose of faculty basketball information from Illini beat author and AP High 25 voter Scott Richey. He’ll supply up insights each morning on Brad Underwood’s crew:
The 2020-21 Illinois basketball season is about to begin on Nov. 25. At the very least unofficially. The schedule nonetheless hasn’t been launched, however a number of studies have the No. 8 Illini opening up at residence in a multi-team occasion towards Ohio, Wright State and North Carolina A&T.
Main as much as the beginning of the season, we’ll shine a highlight on every Illinois participant. Immediately? We proceed with the primary of 4 scholarship freshmen:
By advantage of the NCAA’s determination to increase eligibility for all winter athletes, Lieb may get a couple of minutes right here and there this season — simply to get the expertise — and nonetheless return in 2020-21 for Illinois as a real freshman with the chance to nonetheless redshirt. This complete pandemic factor goes to make retaining everybody’s eligibility straight a problem.
As a result of here is the factor. Lieb possible will not be prepared this season. Eight months in the past he was nonetheless of the mindset he was going to play at a prep college in 2020-21 after graduating from Deerfield. The recruiting curiosity wasn’t actually there.
Then it was. The mid-majors have been first. Then Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, DePaul, Utah and Illinois got here calling. Lieb picked the Illini, after all, in late June.
That late curiosity was centered round one key issue. Lieb’s a 7-footer. Of all of the issues you possibly can’t educate, peak is … a kind of issues. He additionally suggestions the scales at 210 kilos. He is skinny and, once more, not going prepared for the physicality of the Huge Ten.
Here is what Lieb can do that season, although. He can proceed to bulk up and get stronger. And he can proceed to check himself day-after-day in observe towards one of many top 20 players in the country in teammate Kofi Cockburn, who is similar peak however has a 75-pound benefit.
A 12 months or two or three or 4 down the highway, possibly Lieb has his breakthrough second. As a result of you possibly can’t educate 7 ft tall, however you possibly can actually effective tune methods to use it. Particularly when that 7-footer has the potential to stretch his recreation to the perimeter.