For most of the 2018 recruiting cycle, small forward Gerald Liddell was the biggest jewel in the crown of the Texas Longhorns recruiting class. And even though Liddell saw his stock dip late, and the class added another high-profile player, the San Antonio product is a huge addition to the program’s frontcourt depth in 2019.
A four-star athlete out of Cibolo Steele, Liddell came to the Longhorns as a top-50 recruit from a school known for its football production. In fact, when he signed with the Longhorns, Liddell became the first basketball player from Steele to sign with a Power Five school.
The 6’8, 200-pound wing brings versatility to the Longhorns and should develop as a contributor on both ends of the floor. As a senior, Liddell led the Knights in scoring, rebounding, and blocks, while finishing second on the team in assists.
“Gerald came in as a freshman who didn’t know what he didn’t know,” head coach Shaka Smart said last month. “He had a lot of physical issues that we had to take care of and address, starting with his back, which really started bothering him once we really started getting him to work harder than he’s ever worked in his life. But his body has made major progress in the 11-12 weeks he’s been here.
“He’s starting to learn what it means to go extremely hard, like Jase (Febres), our goal is to make him more violent over the coming months, but he’s very talented and has an array of offensive abilities that’s gonna eventually make him a good player, once he learns to play hard.”
On the offensive end of the floor, Liddell has shown the ability to cut in from the wings, knock down a mid-range jumper, and clean up the boards to capitalize on second-chance points.
Defensively, he’s benefited from a seven-foot wingspan, allowing him to often be the most-dominant force on the boards for the Knights, and chip in with shot-blocking ability when necessary.
Interestingly enough, Liddell impressed Smart by showcasing more skills than anticipated upon his arrival.
“Gerald has actually been a real pleasant surprise so far. I knew he was a good player, but he’s got a little more stuff to him than I thought,” Smart said of Liddell impressing since arriving on campus.
And that’s no small praise, given that Smart lauded his signee in many of those regards last November when Liddell officially became a member of the Longhorns program.
“Gerald possesses great versatility,” Smart said. “He’s an excellent rebounder, can handle the ball and has a knack to score and create for others. Gerald’s feel and basketball IQ will allow him to play multiple positions. He comes from a great basketball background and will grow tremendously at UT as he adapts to the physicality of the college level.”
Thankfully, Liddell won’t be called upon to step in and be a major contributor for at least his first year on campus, with Dylan Ostekowski and Jericho Sims holding it down in the front court for the Longhorns this year and several guard options likely to occupy the small forward role.
But for now, Liddell has an opportunity to prove that Steele High School is about more than football.