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Get To Know The Illinois State Redbirds’ 2021 Men’s Basketball Newcomers

Written by on September 23, 2021

NORMAL, Ill. – The Illinois State men’s basketball team is coming off their first last-place finish in the Missouri Valley Conference since 2004. With a 17-39 record over the past two seasons, head coach Dan Muller opted to go the transfer portal route to fulfill the Redbirds’ roster for the 2021 campaign.

ISU added four transfers this offseason, with all newcomers retaining at least three years of eligibility. The Redbirds do not have any first-year scholarship freshmen on the current roster, however, welcoming in four new faces with Division I experience is something Muller hopes will progress the program faster. Here’s a look at the newest players:

Liam McChesney

6-10, 185, Forward

Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada (Utah State)

A three-star recruit out of high school, McChesney was the top high school college prospect in Canada as a senior, the 31st best power forward in his class, and 178th best overall prospect in his high school class according to 247 sports. McChesney redshirted his freshman year at Utah State before appearing in just three games last season due to a season-ending leg injury. In those three games, he totaled two points three rebounds and a steal. McChesney will need to add weight and strength, but he possesses a unique skill set that fits the ideal modern-day power forward. His combination of size and athleticism should provide the Redbirds with some much-needed playmaking to take the burden off top returning scorer Antonio Reeves. McChesney will have four seasons of eligibility at ISU.


Ryan Schmitt

6-11, 220, Center

Van Meter, Iowa (Des Moines Area Community College)

The departure of starter Dusan Mahorcic left a big hole in the Redbirds’ frontcourt. Luckily, Schmitt might turn out to be the exact big man they needed. Schmitt started all 26 games in two seasons at Des Moines Area Community College where he averaged 11.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 2.7 blocks per game. His solid play was good enough to help his team win the NJCAA Division II national championship. Schmitt received all-national tournament team honors after recording three double-doubles and was named to the all-Iowa Community College Athletic Conference first team. A player with high upside, Schmitt is another guy that will need to add muscle to his frame but as a true rim protector, he should challenge 6-9 Abdou Ndiaye and 6-10 Alex Kotov for minutes right away. Schmitt will have three years of eligibility with ISU.


Kendall Lewis

6-7, 195, Forward

Snellville, Georgia (Appalachian State)

Lewis is a dynamic offensive player who instantly becomes one of the more athletic guys on the Redbirds’ roster. His ability to score at all three levels (three pointer, mid-range, and around the rim) should solidify him a spot in the Redbirds’ rotation. Lewis averaged 9.9 points and 4.1 rebounds while shooting 41.2% from the field and 75.7% at the free throw line in nine games last season for App State. He will have three years of eligibility with ISU.


Mark Freeman


5-10, 160, Guard

Memphis, Tennessee (Tennessee State)

The most highly-touted incoming transfer, Freeman put up big numbers at Tennessee State where he averaged 17.1 points, 4.6 assists, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.0 steals per game which earned him a selection to the All-Ohio Valley Conference second team a year ago. He led the OVC in free throw percentage at 81.7% but it’s his elite defense that should lock him in as the starting point guard for Dan Muller’s squad. Muller has been adamant to point out the inability to play defense is what has held the Redbirds back the past two seasons. Freeman will bring some much-needed toughness and leadership to Redbird Arena. He will have three years of eligibility with ISU.