BREAKING NEWS: 2020 7-Foot In-State Center Brandon Lieb Commits To Illini

Matthew Stevens

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Brandon Lieb certainly didn't need a lot of time to make a decision once he started to receive attention for his home state school. 

The 7-foot center from Deerfield (Ill.) High School has announced his verbal commitment to the Illini less than 24 hours after the Illini coaching staff conducted a Zoom video conference with him and less than a week after Illinois assistant Ronald 'Chin' Coleman officially sent out the scholarship offer. 

Lieb announced his verbal pledge to the Illinois 2020 recruiting class on Twitter Thursday morning. 

"I'm thrilled to announce I've made my college decision," Lieb wrote on his social media commitment announcement Thursday. "I'd like to thank Coach Underwood, Coach Coleman and the entire staff for giving me this opportunity...Finally thank you to my parents for always supporting me through this process and to my brothers for showing me what it takes to play at the Division 1 level. With all that being said, I'm extremely excited to announce that I'll be continuing my academic and basketball career at the University of Illinois."

By doing so, Brad Underwood may have finally found his candidate to reclassify into his 2020 roster at Illinois. However, the irony is Lieb, by age, was always supposed to be in a college’s 2020 class.

Lieb was set to go to prep school this fall and enroll at a college in the fall of 2021. But that plan likely has changed this month. Not long after his senior season at Deerfield (Ill.) High School was cut short due to the coronavirus, Lieb found himself with just one Division I offer and instead of signing with Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, the 7-foot center was going to enroll in a college prep school and try to improve his stock there. Only a few months later, mix in with the idea of the volatile nature of the transfer market in today’s college basketball world, and Lieb finds himself receiving interest from several Power 5 conference programs including Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Utah. 

Before the COVID-19 epidemic shut down all high school basketball in the state of Illinois, Lieb averaged 13.5 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in his senior year at Deerfield. 

While the Illinois coaching staff continues to wait on the official word of the draft decisions of stars Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn, Underwood’s staff still had a scholarship to use late in this 2020 class. 

Lieb, who currently weighs just 205 pounds, had a 6-foot-10 older brother, Jack, who played Division I college basketball at Lehigh from 2016-20.

Lieb’s recruiting story should remind Illinois fans of Jermaine Hamlin after the former 2019 third-team all-state selection by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association was signed bu the Illini in early August. Hamlin played sparingly off the bench for Underwood last season and recorded 15 total points and 13 total rebounds in 16 games during the 2019-20 campaign.

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