At just 18 years old, Loyola men’s basketball redshirt first-year Ben Schwieger is in his debut season as a Rambler, garnering attention for his skills on the court shooting down three’s and slamming down dunks, but also for his guitar playing skills off the court.
Loyola Men’s Basketball’s Guitar-Playing Forward: Ben Schwieger
Redshirt first-year forward Ben Schwieger is one of the Loyola men’s basketball team’s newest additions to the starting lineup. At 6-foot-7, Schwieger is the second-tallest in the lineup behind 6-foot-11 graduate forward Bryce Golden but is the youngest at just 18 years old.
Though he sat out his first year at Loyola as a redshirt, Schwieger has since started in 16 of Loyola’s 21 games this season, averaging 9.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Along with being a standout player on the court, Schwieger also plays the acoustic guitar.
Schwieger grew up in Aurora, Illinois with two older siblings — his brother Dan and sister Stephanie — who he said inspired him in different ways and naturally wanted to follow in their footsteps. While Stephanie introduced Ben to music, Dan introduced his little brother to sports as an athlete himself, and Schwieger said going to all his older brother’s games made him want to play.
“I’ve been playing basketball since I was really little, probably around 4, with the little tykes hoop,” Schwieger said chuckling. “I grew up playing pretty much every sport. Baseball up until high school, played volleyball in high school, played soccer, football, so just kind of a mix of everything, and just kind of stuck with basketball.”
Though you can find Schwieger on the court most of the time, you can also find him playing the acoustic guitar. After getting the music bug from his older sister Stephanie, Schwieger elevated his love for music into talent during the COVID-19 pandemic by learning how to play the guitar.
“I had nothing better to do, so I might as well come out of this with a new skill learned,” Schwieger said. “I just started looking up YouTube videos on how to play guitar and my brother had a guitar from one of his friend’s brothers who was in a band, and I just picked it up and just started learning.”
Schwieger said his favorite song to play is Talking Tennessee, by Morgan Wallen and his talents can be seen on his TikTok @benschwieger.
Schwieger first arrived on campus in the summer of 2021, after being recruited by Loyola Head Coach Drew Valentine, who was an assistant coach under former Head Coach Porter Moser at the time. Valentine said he attended some of Schwieger’s high school games at Waubonsie Valley in Aurora, Illinois, where he immediately noticed the redshirt first-year’s natural ability.
“Just how easy the game came to him, he was always a guy that was super efficient as far as the percentages on the court from three, from two,” Valentine said. “He had just really good instincts for the game and athleticism that really [stands] out.”
Valentine also noted the potential Schwieger had, as a player who wasn’t working on upping his weight and skill development and could work with him on both. Another attractive element in Schwieger’s recruitment was how naturally athletic he was, being a multi-sport athlete. He played volleyball and basketball in high-school.
After Schwieger’s arrival at Loyola, Valentine said Schwieger worked closely with assistant coaches Patrick Wallace and Amorrow Morgan, looking to improve his game and upping his weight. Schwieger came to Loyola at 190 pounds and set a goal at the start of the summer of getting to 210. By the end of summer training, he was 212, putting on 22 pounds in just one year — something Valentine said has really helped him elevate his game to a high level.
Fellow teammate senior forward Tom Welch, who played just down the road from Schwieger in high school at Naperville North, has also taken notice of the work Schwieger has put in over the last year, saying it’s not easy working through the first year.
“It’s a tough year being on the practice squad and getting yelled at and getting beat up every day,” Welch said. “I could see it in his eyes, the determination to get better every day. And he has been doing that now in his second year and I just know he’s gonna skyrocket with his potential.”
From Schwieger’s view, his redshirt year put the “why” behind the game into perspective for him. Schwieger said seeing the fifth year players on last year’s roster lead the team to success showed him just how hard he had to work to get similar results, something he said he didn’t know before coming to Loyola.
Schwieger’s “why” is carrying him through a tough season of rebuilding with so much lost experience. He said he’s pushing himself even more to be a part of a winning team and continuing to grow the culture with other players.
Schwieger and the Ramblers return to Gentile Arena Feb. 4 where they face George Mason University for the second time this season. Tip-off is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and is set to be broadcast on USA Network.