Kevin Lisch

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Kevin Lisch
Kevin Lisch 2.jpg
No. 11 – Sydney Kings
Position Shooting guard / Point guard
League NBL
Personal information
Born (1986-05-16) May 16, 1986 (age 32)
Belleville, Illinois
Nationality American / Australian
Listed height 188 cm (6 ft 2 in)
Listed weight 88 kg (194 lb)
Career information
High school Althoff Catholic (Belleville, Illinois)
College Saint Louis (2005–2009)
NBA draft 2009 / Undrafted
Playing career 2009–present
Career history
2009–2013 Perth Wildcats
2013 Piratas de Quebradillas
2013–2014 JSF Nanterre
2014–2015 CAI Zaragoza
2015–2016 Illawarra Hawks
2016 Piratas de Quebradillas
2016–present Sydney Kings
Career highlights and awards

Kevin John Lisch (born May 16, 1986) is an American-born Australian professional basketball player for the Sydney Kings of the National Basketball League (NBL). He played college basketball for Saint Louis University (SLU), where he averaged 14 points per game over four years. His 1,687 points at SLU from 2005–09 makes him the sixth-highest scorer in school history. In 2016, he became the first Olympic basketball player from SLU since Pete McCaffrey (1964) and Dick Boushka (1956) after debuting for the Australian national team at the Rio Olympics.[1]

After winning an NBL Championship with the Perth Wildcats in 2010—along with the league's MVP award in 2012—Lisch made a return to the NBL for the 2015–16 season, joining the Illawarra Hawks, and ended up walking away with another MVP trophy, as well as the NBL's best defensive player award. In 2016, he became an Australian citizen and joined the Sydney Kings.[2] He also holds an Italian passport thanks to his mother, which allowed him to play as a local in France and Spain between 2013 and 2015.[3]

Early life[edit]

Born and raised in Belleville, Illinois, Lisch attended Catholic schools as a youth, beginning with Blessed Sacrament for grade school, then Althoff Catholic High School. His faith was always important to him. He played basketball for Althoff Catholic and was often triple-defended on the court. Lisch was also a bright student, joining the student council and the National Honor Society.[4] An all-state guard at Althoff, Lisch was twice named Belleville News-Democrat Player of the Year.[5]

College career[edit]

Lisch continued on at a Catholic institute for college, joining Saint Louis University (SLU). At Saint Louis, Lisch played under coaches Brad Soderberg (2005–07) and Rick Majerus (2007–09) while earning a bachelor's degree in marketing and an MBA in four years.[4]

As a freshman playing for the Billikens in 2005–06, Lisch was selected to the A-10 All-Rookie Team and was a three-time recipient of the A-10 Rookie of the Week award. He was the team's second-leading scorer at 11.1 points per game and top three-point shooter with 58 treys, which set the SLU freshman single-season record.[6]

As a sophomore in 2006–07, Lisch was on the A-10 All-Defensive Team and earned honorable mention All-Conference selection. He was also named to the Shelby Classic All-Tournament team. He was second on the team and 13th in the A-10 with 14.9 points per game, and dealt a team-high 3.47 assists per game to rank eighth in the league. He led the team in assists in 19 games and was the top scorer 13 times—he scored in double figures in 26 games, including the last 14.[6]

As a junior in 2007–08, Lisch was named third-team All-Conference and to the All-Defensive team. He was also voted to the Academic All-Conference squad and was selected to the Hispanic College Fund Challenge All-Tournament team. He led the team in scoring at 14.6 points per game, assists with 97 and steals with 38.[6]

As a senior in 2008–09, Lisch was named ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American third team and was a first-team Academic All-District selection. He was chosen to the NABC All-District second team and voted the A-10 Men's Basketball Student-Athlete of the Year. He was also third-team All-Conference and was named to the Las Vegas Classic All-Tournament team.[6] In 31 games as a senior, he averaged 14.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.3 steals per game.[7]

Lisch closed out his career in sixth place on SLU's scoring list with 1,687 points. His 325 assists rank ninth on the career chart and his 259 three-pointers are second[8] only to the school-record 295 by Erwin Claggett. Lisch's 133 steals rank fifth at SLU also.[6] As a result of his standout four-year tenure, Lisch was named to the Billikens' All-Century Team and was inducted into the SLU Hall of Fame.[1]

Professional career[edit]

Perth Wildcats (2009–2013)[edit]

2009–10 season[edit]

In July 2009, Lisch signed with the Perth Wildcats of the Australian National Basketball League. Wildcats head coach Rob Beveridge helped sway Lisch to come to Perth due to his close friendship with Billikens head coach Rick Majerus.[9] Lisch struggled to begin his rookie season.[10] While Beveridge was quietly chuffed with his signing of Lisch, many Wildcats supports and much of the Perth community didn't feel the same way, with some fans calling for Lisch to be cut as early as the preseason tournament. Beveridge took Lisch under his wing from day one and became a father figure with absolute faith in him.[11] Lisch debuted with a 12-point effort on September 25, 2009 against the Wollongong Hawks. A month later, in his sixth game on October 25, Lisch scored a season-high 21 points against the Melbourne Tigers. He scored in double figures in seven of his first eight games before registering 11 single-figure games throughout the rest of the season, including five straight games of under 7 points between December 19 and January 8.[12]

Lisch finished the regular season scoring in double figures in four out of the final six games, including a 19-point effort in the regular-season finale on February 14 against the Townsville Crocodiles.[12] The Wildcats finished the regular season as minor premiers with a 17–11 record, and faced the fourth-seeded Gold Coast Blaze in the semi-finals. Behind Lisch's 19 points in Game 1 and 18 points in Game 2, the Wildcats swept the Blaze to move on to the 2010 NBL Grand Final series, where they faced Wollongong.[12] After the series was tied at 1–1 following Game 2, Game 3 saw Lisch take over in the second and third quarter. In a fiery encounter in Perth, the Wildcats trailed by 11 points early in the second term but clawed its way out of trouble courtesy of an inspirational performance from Lisch, who drained a game-high 29 points, including five of nine from long range. As a result, the Wildcats became the NBL's most successful team after securing their fifth championship with a 96–72 victory over the Hawks. Lisch, who posted 15 points in Game 1 and 11 in Game 2, was awarded the Larry Sengstock medal for MVP in the grand final series.[13][14][15] Lisch appeared in all 33 games for the Wildcats in 2009–10, averaging 12.1 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.[12]

2010–11 season[edit]

In April 2010, Lisch re-signed with the Wildcats for the 2010–11 NBL season.[16] Lisch gladly put pen to paper after contemplating a move to Europe and being on the radar of several other NBL clubs.[10] He came into the 2010–11 season sporting a more muscular tone, having bulked up for his second season after spending countless hours running and working out in the weights room.[10] Lisch scored in double figures in all but nine games during the regular season, as he scored over 20 points three times. The Wildcats were hit by numerous long-term injuries during the 2010–11 season that derailed their chances at defending their title. They finished the regular season in fourth place with a 16–12 record, and faced the first-placed New Zealand Breakers in the semi-finals. Behind a 29-point effort, Lisch helped the Wildcats take Game 1 of the series in Auckland,[17] before the Breakers came back to win Games 2 and 3. Lisch appeared in all 31 games for the Wildcats in 2010–11, averaging 13.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.[18] His strong season saw him share the Gordon Ellis Medal as the Perth Wildcats' MVP along with co-captain Shawn Redhage.[19]

2011–12 season[edit]

In May 2011, Lisch re-signed with the Wildcats on a two-year deal.[19] He was quickly branded as the "best import in the league" by coach Rob Beveridge and he lived up to the tag over the first five rounds of the 2011–12 season. He averaged 22.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.3 steals per game during the month of October, guiding the Wildcats to a 3–1 record. He was subsequently rewarded for his impressive start to the season with the NBL Player of the Month award for October.[20] Lisch spent time as a ball handler early in the season in the absence of the injured Damian Martin, sharing the ball carrying role largely with co-captain Brad Robbins.[21]

Lisch scored in double figures in every game but three during the regular season, helping the Wildcats finish second on the ladder with a 19–9 record. He helped the Wildcats defeat the Gold Coast Blaze 2–1 in the semi-finals to move on to the 2012 NBL Grand Final series. There the Wildcats faced the New Zealand Breakers, but despite Lisch averaging 19 points per game in the series, the Wildcats were defeated 2–1.[22]

Prior to the start of the finals, Lisch was named the recipient of the Andrew Gaze Trophy as the NBL's most valuable player for the 2011–12 season. Lisch, who was also named in the All-NBL First Team, became just the second Wildcats player to win the league's top individual honour after former captain Paul Rogers in 2000.[23] He appeared in all 34 games for the Wildcats in 2011–12, averaging 17.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game.[22]

2012–13 season[edit]

Following his MVP season, Lisch received increased physical attention from defenders and became an obvious target for opposition defences. However, he remained among the league's top ten scorers; the extra defensive attention also created more scoring opportunities for teammates like Matt Knight.[24] Over the first half of the 2012–13 season, Lisch was named Player of the Week for Round 8[25] and earned selection to the South All-Stars team as the starting shooting guard for the 2012 NBL All-Star Game.[26] However, he was forced to withdraw after being diagnosed with a Grade 2 groin strain.[27][28] Additionally, against the Townsville Crocodiles on October 14, Lisch played his 100th consecutive NBL game which, not coincidentally, was Rob Beveridge's 100th game for the Wildcats as coach. Lisch became the first player since Darryl McDonald 15 years earlier to achieve 100 consecutive games.[29] Over the second half of the season, he set a season high with 26 points against the Cairns Taipans on January 5,[30] and on February 4, he was named to the Perth Wildcats 30th Anniversary All-Star team.[31] Lisch scored in double figures in every game but five during the regular season, helping the Wildcats finish second on the ladder with a 22–6 record. He helped the Wildcats sweep the Wollongong Hawks in the semi-finals to move on to the 2013 NBL Grand Final series. There the Wildcats once again faced the New Zealand Breakers, only to lose the series in straight sets.

Prior to the start of the finals, Lisch was named in the All-NBL First Team for the second straight year.[32] He was later named the recipient of the Gordon Ellis Medal as the Perth Wildcats' MVP for the third straight year.[33] He appeared in all 32 games for the Wildcats in 2012–13, averaging 15.2 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.[30]

In late May 2013, Lisch and coach Rob Beveridge parted ways with the Wildcats after four seasons. In each of the Wildcats' 130 outings since the beginning of the 2009–10 season, both Lisch and Beveridge took to the floor in every contest.[34] Lisch ended his four-year tenure in Perth with career averages of 14.6 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.[30]

Puerto Rico (2013)[edit]

Following the conclusion of the 2012–13 NBL season, Lisch joined Puerto Rican team Piratas de Quebradillas. In late July 2013, Lisch was named MVP as Quebradllias beat Ponce Lions 89–72 in game six to win the best-of-seven Puerto Rican national league grand final series. Lisch registered 20 points, nine rebounds and five assists playing alongside Wildcats captain Shawn Redhage as Quebradllias completed the 4–2 series win in front of their home fans. Lisch and Redhage formed a potent combination in Puerto Rico after joining the Pirates on short-term deals at the end of the NBL season.[35] In 35 games for Quebradillas, he averaged 16.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game.

Europe (2013–2015)[edit]

On July 6, 2013, Lisch signed a one-year deal with French team JSF Nanterre.[36] There he teamed-up with his brother-in-law, Trenton Meacham.[35] However, due to a broken finger,[37] he was unable to debut for Nanterre until January. He appeared in 11 league games for Nanterre in 2013–14, averaging 8.6 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.3 steals per game.[38] He also appeared in eight Eurocup games, averaging 7.1 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.5 steals per game.[39] In May 2014, he helped Nanterre win the French Cup, scoring four points in the 55–50 win over SLUC Nancy in the final.[40]

In June 2014, Lisch parted ways with Nanterre and signed with Spanish team CAI Zaragoza.[41][42][43] He appeared in 34 league games for Zaragoza in 2014–15, averaging 6.4 points, 1.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game.[44] He also appeared in 15 Eurocup games, averaging 6.0 points, 1.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game.[45]

Following the 2014–15 season, Zaragoza offered to renew his contract, but Lisch declined the offer to return to Australia.[46]

Illawarra Hawks (2015–2016)[edit]

On July 6, 2015, Lisch signed with the Illawarra Hawks for the 2015–16 season, returning to the Australian National Basketball League for a second stint and re-joining his former Wildcats mentor, Rob Beveridge, at the Hawks.[47][48] In his debut for the Hawks on October 8, 2015, Lisch contributed seven points before hobbling off the court during the third quarter of their game against the Cairns Taipans with a knee injury.[49] He watched the remainder of the game from the bench with his right knee in a brace,[50] and subsequently missed the Hawks' next three games.[51] He returned to action on October 25 to face his former team, the Perth Wildcats, for the first time. Making his first appearance for the Hawks at home, Lisch recorded 15 points and seven assists in a 106–99 loss to the Wildcats.[52]

On January 7, 2016, Lisch was named NBL Player of the Month for December after leading the Hawks to five wins in six games and averaging 22.7 points, 4.3 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game throughout the month.[53] On January 17, he scored a career-high 40 points in a 103–96 double overtime win over the New Zealand Breakers in Auckland.[54][55] Four days later, he played his 150th NBL game in a loss to the Perth Wildcats in Perth.[56]

Lisch helped the Hawks finish the regular season in third place with a 17–11 record, which set them up to play the second-seeded Perth Wildcats in the semi-finals. Their chances of defeating the Wildcats were weakened when Lisch went down heavily on his left ankle late in the first quarter of Game 1 in Perth and did not return, only coming back to the team's bench in the second half in a moon boot on crutches.[57] The Wildcats subsequently took Game 1.[58] The injury ruled Lisch out of Game 2,[59] but the Hawks managed to rally at home to even the series. He recovered in time to face the Wildcats in Game 3;[60] however, despite Lisch's return, the Hawks were defeated 89–74, as they bowed out of the finals with a 2–1 series loss.[61]

Prior to the start of the finals, Lisch was named the recipient of the Andrew Gaze Trophy as the NBL's most valuable player for the 2015–16 season.[62] Lisch, who was also named NBL Best Defensive Player[63] and All-NBL First Team, became just the second player in league history to win the award with two different teams.[64] He also became the fourth Hawks player to win the award, joining Mike Jones (1981), Gary Ervin (2011) and Rotnei Clarke (2014), while becoming only the sixth player in NBL history to have been named MVP in multiple seasons, joining Andrew Gaze (7), Scott Fisher (2), Leroy Loggins (2), Robert Rose (2) and Chris Anstey (2).[65] In 27 games for the Hawks in 2015–16, he averaged 19.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game.

Second stint in Puerto Rico (2016)[edit]

On February 1, 2016, Lisch signed with Puerto Rican team Piratas de Quebradillas, returning to the team for a second stint.[66][67] He arrived in Puerto Rico in early April, debuting on April 4 against San Germán.[68] On May 2, he scored a season-high 32 points in a 99–95 double overtime loss to Santeros de Aguada.[69] In 20 games for Quebradillas in 2016, Lisch averaged 14.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.3 steals per game.

Sydney Kings (2016–present)[edit]

2016–17 season[edit]

On April 1, 2016, it was announced that Lisch had turned down a contract extension with the Illawarra Hawks, and that a rival NBL team was his next destination.[70] A day later, the Sydney Kings announced Lisch as their first major signing for the 2016–17 season, with Lisch having inked a three-year deal.[71] It marked the second significant signing for the Kings, with Australian basketball icon, Andrew Gaze, having joined the team as its new head coach. The signing of Lisch, along with the appointment of Gaze as head coach, set the Kings up to lure more quality free agents to a club that had seen its struggles since returning to the league in 2010, capped off by a 6–22 record in 2015–16.[2] A bonus for the Kings was that Lisch became an Australian citizen in March 2016, meaning the team could use its three import slots without Lisch filling one of them.[2] In the weeks leading up to the start of the 2016–17 season, Lisch was appointed team captain.[72][73]

In his debut for the Kings in their season opener on October 8, 2016, Lisch scored a game-high 20 points in a 77–73 loss to the Brisbane Bullets.[74] On November 12, 2016, he scored a season-high 30 points in an 87–71 win over Melbourne United.[75] By mid-November, Lisch had led the Kings to atop the NBL ladder behind his 18 points per game, leading to Andrew Gaze and teammate Steve Blake citing that Lisch was good enough to play in the NBA.[76]

The Kings were title favourites following Round 5, having moved to a 5–1 record after a win over the Brisbane Bullets, with Lisch performing at an MVP level for the relaunched Kings. However, things began to deteriorate after that. The Kings' 'front-heavy' home schedule began to catch up to them, Steve Blake suddenly returned to the U.S. with a personal issue, and Lisch seemingly started to burn out. By Round 11, the Kings had slipped from the top spot, and by Round 14 they were no longer among the top four.[77] The Kings missed the finals in 2016–17 after losing nine of their final twelve games, finishing seventh on the ladder with a 13–15 record. Lisch appeared in 27 out of the Kings' 28 games, averaging 16.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.9 steals per game. His lone missed game came on October 30 against Brisbane due to a minor leg injury.[78]

2017–18 season[edit]

Lisch's production dropped off as the 2016–17 season came to a close, with the Kings' management putting it down to a mixture of niggling injuries, his workload, and the fact that he'd just come off an Olympic campaign with the Australian Boomers in August 2016.[77] Aimed at resolving a nagging injury that curtailed his performance in 2016–17, Lisch underwent minor knee surgery during the off-season.[79] The Kings remained confident during the 2017 off-season that Lisch was the man for the job, despite calls for the team to go after the likes of Jerome Randle or Casper Ware.[77] After an off-season of rest and a training schedule refinement, Lisch entered the 2017–18 season ready to redeem himself.[80]

On September 28, 2017, Lisch and the Kings flew to Salt Lake City in the United States to face the Utah Jazz in a historic pre-season game on October 2, marking the first time an NBL team has travelled to the U.S. to play an NBA team.[81] Lisch scored 13 points in the 108–83 loss.[82][83]

Lisch was described early in the season as "simply not a point guard" after starting at the point in the first three games.[84] The Kings' offence looked disorganised in the preseason, as well as the beginning of the regular season, and things only got worse when Lisch went down with a calf tear.[84] In just the third game of the season on October 15 against the Illawarra Hawks, Lisch left the game in the third quarter with a right calf injury.[85] He was subsequently ruled out for eight weeks with a grade two tear.[86] Lisch was on track to return to action on December 17 against the Cairns Taipans after re-joining the full squad at training at the seven-week mark. However, he re-injured his calf at training on December 13.[87] The Kings struggled defensively in Lisch's absence and sat at the bottom of the NBL ladder for much of the season.[88] He returned to the active roster in mid-January after missing 17 games.[89] In his return game on January 13, Lisch recorded seven points and four rebounds in 15 minutes off the bench before fouling out of the Kings' 104–101 loss to the Adelaide 36ers.[90] On February 15, he scored a season-high 18 points in a 90–73 win over the Brisbane Bullets.[91] Playing alongside mid-season signing Jerome Randle, Lisch helped the Kings to six wins in their last seven games.[92] Despite the late season surge, the Kings missed the finals with an 11–17 record. In 11 games, Lisch averaged 11.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.5 steals per game.

2018–19 season[edit]

In 2018, Lisch utilised the off-season by not going anywhere to play. He stayed in Sydney and concentrated on getting healthy.[93] On September 30, 2018, Lisch scored 16 points in a 110–91 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in a pre-season clash in Hawaii.[94][95]

National team career[edit]

In May 2016, Lisch was named in the Australian national team's 17-man squad for a selection camp in Melbourne in July ahead of the Rio Olympics.[96] He was subsequently named in the final 12-man squad, joining former Perth Wildcats teammate Damian Martin as Olympic debutants.[97] Lisch became the first Olympic basketball player from SLU since Pete McCaffrey (1964) and Dick Boushka (1956).[1][98] Lisch was a key reserve for the Boomers during their Olympic campaign, helping Australia reach the bronze medal game.[99] There the Boomers lost a closely contested game to Spain. Australia's fourth-place finish matched their best-ever finish in the Olympics.[100] Lisch appeared in all eight games for Australia, averaging 2.6 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 14 minutes per game. He scored seven points in Australia's opening game win against France,[101] and had six rebounds in the bronze medal game against Spain.[102]

In June 2017, Lisch was named in a 20-man Boomers training camp squad ahead of the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup.[103] However, due to injury, he was not named in the final 12-man squad.[104] Lisch returned to the Boomers squad in February 2018 for the FIBA World Cup qualifiers.[92] He continued on with the Boomers for their final World Cup qualifying matches in June.[105]

Personal[edit]

Lisch is the son of Rusty and Cathy Lisch. His father was a standout prep basketball player before choosing football and going on to play in the National Football League (NFL) as a quarterback. Lisch has an older sister Stephanie, a younger sister Theresa, and a younger brother Daniel.[106] Lisch holds an Italian passport thanks to his mother's Italian heritage,[3] and in March 2016, he became an Australian citizen.[107]

Lisch's wife, Rachel, played college basketball in the U.S. but grew up in Australia and later played pro basketball there. The couple—who were introduced to each other by Lisch's former mentor and coach Rob Beveridge[108]—have four children: Benjamin, Sofia,[1] and twins Isabel and Isaac.[109]

References[edit]

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