Northwestern basketball has always had a distinct look. It's a decidedly pasty one. The Wildcats have run out a number of European players over recent years, and seem to specialize in finding dudes who can shoot the rock from the outside but not do much else. Northwestern has never really had the type of stout interior presence required to navigate the physical waters of the Big 10 schedule, and it's a clear reason why the school has yet to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. There's no telling if Aaron Liberman will be the man to finally bring Northwestern to the Big Dance, but the 6-foot-10 center out of California's Valley Torah High School is certain to add to the program's legacy of, um, unique looking players.
Evan Eschmeyer ain't got nothing on Liberman. The Wildcats' newly accepted walk-on didn't start playing basketball until his sophomore year of high school, but will surely become a fan favorite in Evanston if he can establish any type of success. Liberman plays with a yarmulke, which has earned him the nickname 'The Jewish Dwight Howard'. This is a good thing, because even an alliteration enthusiast like myself thinks the 'Jewish Jordan' nickname is played out. Liberman also seems to have a killer work ethic, something that will no doubt endear him to the Wildcat fanbase.
Here's how Liberman has spent the last two years, via The Dagger's Jeff Eisenberg.
A dual Jewish and secular studies curriculum kept Valley Torah students in class from 7:45 a.m. to 5:45 p.m., but Liberman's day typically only got harder once school ended. He'd drive up to an hour to a vacant gym to do drills by himself or with a local college coach, then practiced with his high school teammates from roughly 9 to 11 p.m. Once he arrived home, he typically did his homework or worked with a tutor, caught a few hours sleep and then woke up to do it all over again the next day.
Liberman averaged 18 points, 11 rebounds and 9 blocks last season for Valley Torah. Be sure to check out the highlight video up at The Dagger, as well.