June 12, 2014
By Tom Weber
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois University has filled its men's basketball roster for 2014 and beyond. On Thursday, head coach Barry Hinson announced that 7-foot-1, 245-pound junior college transfer Deng Leek has signed an Athletics Aid agreement.
With six freshmen, three sophomores, four juniors and no seniors, SIU's 13-man roster is essentially set through the 2015-16 season.
Leek, a native of Sudan, averaged four points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocked shots at Jacksonville (Texas) College last season for a Jaguars team that finished 11-20.
"Deng gives us a dimension we've been missing the last few years -- an imposing shot-blocking presence in the paint," said Hinson. "Having a player who can challenge shots has the potential to improve your entire defense."
Seven-footers have been few and far between at SIU. The last one was Kobby Acquah, who played a small role on Southern's 2007 Sweet 16 team.
Leek, 21, played high school basketball in North Carolina and originally signed with Western Kentucky in 2011, but he did not quality academically and enrolled at Tallahassee Community College in Florida, where he played one season. Leek sat out the 2012-13 season, giving him two years of eligibility at SIU.
Entering his third season at Southern Illinois, Hinson has completely overhauled the program's roster. Leek is the 19th player Hinson has signed in slightly more than two years.