Men's Basketball

Loyola Men’s Basketball Lands First 2021 Commit

Emily Burdett | The PhoenixLoyola men's basketball head coach Porter Moser celebrates after the Ramblers' thrilling overtime victory over Northern Iowa at Gentile Arena Feb. 15.

The Loyola men’s basketball program received its first verbal commitment of the class of 2021 after local guard Ben Schwieger announced his intention to play for Loyola July 16 via Twitter.

The 6-foot-6 guard plays for Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora, Illinois — about an hour southwest of Loyola’s Lakeshore Campus. He said Loyola was a “perfect fit” for him.

“[Loyola] checked off all of my boxes,” Schwieger, a rising senior in high school, said. “The main reasons I chose it was the relationships I had with the coaches. I already knew some of the players so I kind of felt like I was already part of the team.”

Schwieger said Loyola assistant coach Drew Valentine and rising sophomore forward Tom Welch played big roles in the recruiting process. Welch attended Naperville North High School, which is a 15-minute drive from Waubonsie Valley.

“Now, I feel like we’re really close and it’s almost like a family-feel,” Schwieger said about his relationship with Valentine. “[Valentine and Welch] have been like the main people I’ve been talking to at Loyola that have helped me through this journey.”

Due to NCAA rules, coaches and players aren’t able to comment on a recruit until they sign their National Letter of Intent.

At Waubonsie Valley, Schwieger has split his time between playing basketball and volleyball. His decision to not focus on just basketball led to him flying under the radar as a recruit since the high school volleyball season conflicted with the travel basketball spring season, according to the Chicago Tribune

Schwieger said he started playing volleyball in high school as a fun activity to do with friends. He said he’s glad he played both sports, even if it limited his exposure for travel basketball.

“[Volleyball] has always been more of a hobby and something that I would do on the side for fun,” Schwieger said. “I’ve played basketball for such a long time, it’s kind of been like my No. 1 love.”

However, Schwieger made a big leap on the hardwood between his sophomore and junior seasons. His scoring average went from 3.2 points per game as a sophomore to 16.4 as a junior, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

As it stands, the Ramblers are set to have at least five open scholarships following this season due to a large senior class. First-year center Jacob Hutson could take one of those open scholarships next year. Hutson is currently on the as a walk-on after Moser filled his two open scholarships this season with first-year guard Baylor Hebb and Indiana University transfer Damezi Anderson.

Schwieger still has one year left at Waubonsie Valley before coming to Loyola. But high school athletics in the state of Illinois — including a winter boy’s basketball season — is still up in the air due to concerns regarding COVID-19.

There’s also uncertainty surrounding the upcoming college basketball season. During a teleconference, Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Commissioner Doug Elgin said the league is waiting to see “what the virus dictates” before making any decisions about delaying or canceling the men’s basketball season.

“We don’t have any answers, but we’re certainly looking at a lot of models where we could adjust for either a late start to the fall season or to the basketball season or to moving those seasons,” Elgin said during a teleconference July 7. “We’re going to be in a position soon where we have to make those decisions, and I think our staff has done a good job with ‘what-ifs.’”

An MVC spokesperson said Elgin declined to comment further.

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