CHAMPAIGN – Deerfield (Ill.) Seven footer Brandon Lieb he had Illini games on his TV growing up in hopes of adapting to the Big Ten stage someday.
Just a few weeks ago, Lieb planned to go to high school after averaging 13.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game in his senior year. Now, he’s ready to hit the Illini campus in the near future after committing to the program on Thursday.
“Playing for a home state, there is a lot of pride in that. I have been following Illinois and have been a huge fan for years watching them grow up, “Lieb told Illini Inquirer. “Any game I can see, I see them. I always imagine myself one day in one of those shirts, at least at that level. I am grateful to have that opportunity. I am sure my parents will love being close to home. Academically, they were the top of the list of all the offers I had. In many ways it was the perfect fit for me. “
Lieb’s late recruitment rapidly escalated. After receiving great offers from DePaul, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Utah within two weeks, Illinois joined in on an offer Tuesday. Lieb had a Zoom call with Brad Underwood and all the staff on Wednesday afternoon and that sealed the deal.
“It was great,” said Lieb. “Obviously things moved a little bit fast. They got in touch for the first time this week. We had a Zoom with all the staff at three o’clock and it lasted an hour and a half or two hours. I think during that Zoom it really hit me and I knew there was really no doubt that was where I wanted to be. Get face-to-face time with all staff. They organized a video presentation for me. ”
Lieb’s combination of length and external touch is intriguing, but there is no doubt that he needs to progress a lot physically in the years to come. Enter strength and conditioning coach Adam Fletcher, who was a key voice in Zoom’s call.
“I was so impressed with him,” said Lieb. “I know, for me, gaining weight is going to be enormous and I will work a lot with it in the coming years. He is great and knowledgeable about all of that. ”
Fletcher and Lieb will be working together very soon. Illini’s new engagement is beginning the admission process and she plans to be in town in a few weeks.
“They said they see me go out in mid-July,” Lieb said. “The date the NCAA gave for practices to start was July 20, so I will definitely be there before that. Probably in the next two or three weeks to go out and adjust and settle in with the team and everyone. “