Daily Egyptian

Leek adds another hand to arsenal

By Evan Jones, @EvanJones_DE

When Dr. Tom Amberry set the world record for consecutive free throws with 2,750 in 1991, he did so with two hands.  

SIU basketball senior center Deng Leek challenged the normal free throw approach by using only his right hand, which he has done his whole life. 

Last season Leek made one of his five free throw attempts. 

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In SIU’s exhibition win 106-73 against Maryville on Monday, Leek was on the court for eight minutes. He was three for three from the field, scoring six points with three rebounds and two blocked shots.

Leek was unable to showcase his hand, as he did not attempt a free throw.

His left hand, that is.   

Leek worked in the offseason to start shooting free throws with both hands. He said it was hard work to get the motion down.

“I’ve been working hard on it all summer,” Leek said. “I got a whole lot better I think. I switched it up and I’m feeling a lot more comfortable now.” Leek did not attempt a free throw against Maryville. 

Assistant coach Brad Autry said Leek is one of the most agile big men he has ever worked with. They worked together during the summer to make Leek a bigger offensive threat inside the paint.

Added touches inside the paint means Leek could use his new two-handed free throw more this season.

As the tallest player on the SIU roster, and one of five seven-footers in the Missouri Valley Conference, Leek said his role on the team is still guarding the basket on defense.

Leek played 57 minutes last season, the lowest of any other player. He was third on the team with eight blocks even with the limited playing time.

This is Autry’s first season at SIU and he has already named the paint “The Denger Zone” because of Leek’s tall stature and his ability to block shots defensively and pose a threat on the offensive rebound.

With nine new players on the SIU basketball roster — Leek says the team is better than last season. 

“Last year was really frustrating not getting a lot of playing time,” Leek said. “But now with this year I hope I can get out there and show the coaches what I can do.” 

Evan Jones can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @EvanJones_DE

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