The Flames welcome a trio of true freshmen to their roster this season, highlighted by the highest rated prospect in school in 6’7″ forward Kyle Rode. Fellow 6’7″ forward Shiloh Robinson has also impressed the coaching staff ever since he arrived on campus this summer while Marten Maide is likely to redshirt following knee surgery.

“I love our group, first and foremost,” Liberty head coach Ritchie McKay said when asked about his freshmen. “You can see the residue of the character that is in our program, the guys that have helped recruit the guys that are the youngest.”

Rode will likely fight for starter’s minutes from the get go, and will be one of the first guys off the bench when he’s not starting. He can play pretty much any position on the court, as he comes into the program after averaging 23.2 points and 9.6 rebounds in his senior season. He finished as Lexington Christian Academy’s all-time leading scorer with 2,498 career points and the school’s first three district titles.

“Kyle Rode, if you’re not paying close attention or if you’re not a basketball enthusiast, you can miss some of the stuff that he does, but I think he might be the winning plays leader in all of high school basketball last year.” McKay continued, “I’m really glad he’s got one of our jerseys on.”

Robins was a two-year starter at Kearney High School in Nebraska where he averaged 13.1 points and 8.4 rebounds as a sophomore while leading his team to the 2017 state semifinals. He graduated high school with a 4.0 GPA.

“Shiloh Robinson, we love him,” McKay stated. “Best case scenario I’d redshirt him as well, but every single practice that I leave, I think, ‘How can we redshirt him? He’s really good.’ I think he’s the kind of kid that the longer he is in our system the better he is going to be. We’re still deciding there. If he does play, I think he will find a way in the rotation.”

Maide is a 6’5″ freshman guard who is originally from Estonia but played his high school ball at Carmel Christian School in Charlotte. He competed for the U18 Estonia national team and led Carmel Christian to the 2018 NCISAA 2A State title.

“Marten Maide, who is out with a knee injury and a strong redshirt candidate, is going to be really good,” McKay said.

Breaking into the lineup won’t be easy as Coach McKay and the Flames return four starters from a team that won a program-record 29 games. Liberty also five of the top six scorers and seven who played in at least 31 games last year.

We’ll get our first look at the freshmen and what the rotation could look like Friday night when the Flames host Radford to open the 2019-20 campaign.