Brian Peabody in his seven years as Pima’s head coach has now produced eight NCAA Division I prospects with the Aztecs.
Jake Lieppert, who recently completed his freshman season as a third-team NJCAA All-American, became the eighth player under Peabody to advance to a Division I program when he signed a national letter of intent yesterday with Rice of Conference USA.
Lieppert’s teammate Rashad Smith, a 6-5 wing player, signed with Grand Canyon of the WAC in the fall.
Lieppert was named ACCAC Freshman of the Year, first team All-ACCAC and first team All-Region I, Division II. He played and started 30 games for the Aztecs this season as he led the ACCAC conference at 23.7 points per game. He also led the Aztecs shooting 41.7 percent from 3-point range. He shot 48.8 percent from the field to go along with 7.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.
“I chose Rice (University) because of its history and culture,” Lieppert said in a statement. “I get to experience both high level basketball and academics, all while playing under a head coach (Scott Pera) who believes in my abilities.”
Pera is a former ASU assistant who joined Herb Sendek‘s staff in 2006-07 from Artesia High School in Los Angeles, where he coached James Harden. Both he and Harden went to ASU at the same time. Pera was an assistant under Sendek for six years.
Lieppert redshirted the 2018-19 season and has three years of eligibility. He received scholarship offers from institutions like Denver, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Portland State and South Dakota.
The other Aztecs who played for Peabody and went on to Division I programs include:
— Kennedy Koehler with UC Davis. A junior power forward in his first season with the Aggies, he averaged 5.8 points and 4.1 rebounds. He played in 32 games and started 13 of them. He posted team-high rebound totals in six games. His 10-rebound effort against Cal State Fullerton was a season-high.
— Jeremiah Bailey with Pacific, coached by Arizona legend Damon Stoudamire. The junior wing appeared in 33 games for the Tigers this season, averaging 3.0 points and 2.9 rebounds per game. Scored a season-high 13 points at Santa Clara on 5-of-10 shooting in 23 minutes and grabbed a season-high 10 rebounds in a triple-overtime thriller against Boise State in 44 minutes.
— Kwintin Williams at UConn. In his two seasons with the Huskies in 2017-18 and 2018-19, Williams, a 6-7 wing player, averaged 1.3 points and 1.8 rebounds a game. He played in 25 games in those two seasons.
— Matt O’Boyle at Appalachian State. He played two seasons with Appalachian State in 2015-16 and 2016-17 and averaged 2.5 points and 1.7 rebounds a game in 53 games. He started twice.
— Deion James at Colorado State and Washington State. James, who also starred at Empire High School, was a graduate transfer with the Cougars this season after leaving Colorado State after one year. His career was cut short because of a serious heart infection after five games with Washington State. He averaged 2.6 points and 0.8 rebounds per game in less than seven minutes per game for the Cougars. With Colorado State in 2018-19, he scored 10.5 points per game and grabbed 5.3 rebounds per game.
— Alize Travis at Northern Illinois. He did not play this season because of a hernia injury. The 6-foot guard appeared in seven games in 2018-19, including two starts, before missing the rest of the season due to an injury. He averaged 0.9 points, 1.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.