IN HIS senior year with the Loyola Marymount Lions in the NCAA, Keil Leaupepe seems to be as confident as ever in his own game and value to the team.
The Lions have won four out of their last five games, and Leaupepe has been at the forefront of the team’s offensive sets and has proven to be a valuable contributor at collegiate level, which is more than many can say.
The Melbourne native stands an impressive six-foot-six, and has demonstrated himself as a crucial part of the Lions lineup, starting at the four and playing over 30 minutes a game.
It has been his strongest start to a season in Loyola Marymount colours, as the 22-year-old rounds out his NCAA career in style.
Kali Leaupepe in 2022/23 – 14.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists
Leaupepe has overcome a quiet start to the season to become one of the most consistent performers for the Lions over the first chunk of games.
After scoring just nine points in the season opener, Leaupepe fired in the second match of the fixture, producing a game-high 29 points in the overtime win against the Morgan State Bears. He went 6-11 from the field, but did most of his damage at the charity stripe, where he nailed 15 of his 18 attempts. In the 81-80 OT win, Leaupepe produced five points in extra time, standing up in the clutch for the Lions.
He also added 11 rebounds, which was also the most of anyone on the court. Five of those came on the offensive end, generating a match-winning amount of second chance points as he outhustled the Bears big men.
Points totals of 15, 14 and 10 followed, and the forward seems to have well and truly settled into the lineup. Although he is not the tallest power forward in the collegiate system, the Australian has plenty of strength and can still outperform his opponents with footwork and a solid reach.
While he is not known as a playmaker, Leaupepe has shown glimpses of strong decision-making and execution with ball in hand. Often if double-teamed in the post, he has the presence of mind to dish back out to the perimeter where one of his teammates is often wide-open.
Leaupepe looks set for his best year in the college system, finally coming into his own as a scorer. If he can continue to back himself with ball in hand and put up high-percentage shots, the Lions will be the beneficiaries. Donning an impressive mullet and an eye-catching style of play, the forward is hard to miss, and should continue to make a name for himself as the season progresses.