Liam McNeeley, a freshman at J.J. Pearce High School in Richardson, Texas, has been identified as potentially one of the top freshman prospects in Texas. Already standing at a sturdy 6’6” with good scoring ability and athleticism, McNeeley will be a name to follow in the coming years.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Liam talked about his family, his game, his goals, his recruitment, his favorite superheroes & much more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2024 prospect Liam McNeeley from Richardson, Texas:
Pro Insight: Can you share a bit about your family and your background?
Liam McNeeley: Born and raised in Richardson, Texas. I’ve always lived here. I went to elementary school at Mohawk, which is across the street from my high school. I mainly live with my mom and my sister. My sister is 18 and about to graduate. My mom is 44 and owns her own business.
PI: What does your mom do?
LM: She owns a consulting firm called Minerva Consulting. She does a lot of work with non-profit organizations.
PI: Do you play any other sports?
LM: When I was little I played all the sports. Soccer, flag football, baseball, and basketball. I’m just playing basketball right now. During the middle of seventh grade, I stopped playing baseball because I didn’t have time to focus on both baseball and basketball.
PI: Did any of your immediate or extended family members play sports at a high level?
LM: My great grandfather played basketball at Tulsa. My grandfather played at TCU. Both my uncles played basketball at SMU, and then one of them transferred to Baylor. My mom played basketball at Rice. I’m hoping to keep it up.
PI: Does your family’s strong basketball lineage add extra pressure?
LM: No. They’re very supportive. If I wanted to stop playing basketball right now, they’d be totally cool with it. But I want to keep playing.
PI: For those who don’t know about your game, could you describe it a little bit?
LM: I make a lot of plays. I think I always find the right player, the open player. I always make the right decision and I play hard.
PI: What are some things you can improve on?
LM: My ball handling and my strength on the court.
PI: What have you been doing to work on that?
LM: During the pandemic, I started lifting weights with my uncle in the garage. I gained a lot of weight during that time.
PI: What’s the most underrated part of your game?
LM: I think my rebounding, actually. If we needed a big rebound, I would take the task and go get it.
PI: How did you manage to continue working on your development during the pandemic?
LM: Since I didn’t have anything to do actually, I have a hoop at my house, and I would try to work out on that every single day and just get better.
PI: Who are some of the players you pull from for your game?
LM: Luka Doncic. I like how he plays. He can do a little bit of everything, always finds the right guy, can hit the three, finish at the rim, and hit mid-range.
PI: Was there anybody else you watched a lot as a little kid?
LM: I loved watching Dirk. I don’t really think I play like him, but he’s been a big role model for me.
PI: So are you a big Mavericks fan?
LM: Big Mavericks fan. I actually went, when they won in 2011, I got to go to the banner ceremony.
PI: Of all the opponents you’ve played, who has been the toughest to match up with?
LM: I think, it’s not one player, it’s a team. We’ve gone back and forth, my AAU team, Drive Nation, has gone back and forth with Team Thrill a bunch of years in a row. They’ll win one year, then we will, it’s just, they’re really good and we’re really good. It’s fun to play against them.
PI: Who are some of the top players on Team Thrill in your age group?
LM: Derrick Queen. Malachi Palmer. Isaiah Williams.
PI: Why do you wear #30? Is there a story behind it?
LM: My mom and my uncle actually wore it, so why not? I like the number. It’s a good number.
PI: What are your short term goals?
LM: For high school basketball, I want to win a lot, make the playoffs, and go deep in the playoffs. I want to make all-district, that’d be pretty cool. I want to average 15+ points and 10+ rebounds.
PI: How about long term?
LM: I want to win state one year. That’d be really cool. I want to get more Division 1 offers. My teammates too.
PI: Have you thought about college recruitment, at all? What are you prioritizing?
LM: I would like to go to a good academic school as well as a good basketball school, because academics come first. According to my mom.
PI: Do you have a dream school?
LM: Not really. I grew up watching all the local schools, but also all the big schools up north.
PI: Do you watch more college or NBA basketball?
LM: I think I watch more NBA ball. I watch March Madness of course. Who doesn’t? But I probably watch more NBA ball.
PI: What are the biggest takeaways when you watch?
LM: Even if you’re the biggest or most athletic guy, that won’t get you by in the NBA. You have to be skilled at everything you do.
PI: Who do you look to and use as a model for success?
LM: My mom. She’s a single mom. We didn’t have a lot of money when we were younger and she raised me and my sister up. Now we’re doing very well.
PI: Do you train with your mom at all?
LM: I used to train with her when I was little. We used to play one-on-one in the driveway.
PI: What’s the best advice she’s given you?
LM: Always keep working. Keep your head down. Don’t listen to what others say. Just focus on yourself and head down.
PI: Has anyone else in your family played a big role in your basketball development?
LM: My grandpa. He helped me learn how to play basketball with my mom. He has been a major part and a big supporter. Probably my biggest supporter other than my mom.
PI: Which non-family member would you say has influenced your life the most up to this point?
LM: Non-family member, probably Dirk Nowitzki. I love the man. The German Giant.
PI: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
LM: You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. I think you can put that in real world situations, because if you don’t try new things, you’re never going to learn from them.
PI: Would you say you rely more on your work ethic or natural talent?
LM: I try to workout once or twice every single day, so probably work ethic.
PI: What’s your greatest memory on the court?
LM: We were in the Made Hoops finale. We were down by 1 point with like 20 seconds left. They were chewing out the clock. They made a pass and I went to steal it, and I got fouled. We were in the bonus. It was 1-and-1. Knocked down the first. We’re tied. Knocked down the second. We go up one. With like 10 seconds left, they try to make a game winner. We get the stop and we win.
PI: Name four words that best describe you.
LM: Loyal. Hard-working. Leader. Pretty nice guy.
PI: What has been a defining moment or story in your life? Why has it stuck with you and what have you learned from it?
LM: Probably just, we didn’t have a lot of money when we were younger. I worked when I was little and kept playing basketball. That’s probably what got me through my younger years. Just kept playing basketball. Basketball can be a great outlet from everything.
PI: Are there any other hobbies you have outside of basketball?
LM: I like hanging out with my friends, playing the game - 2K.
PI: If you were going to do anything other than basketball for a career, what would it be?
LM: My grandpa and my uncle are both lawyers, so I’d probably go down that path.
PI: Are you more of a movie or TV guy? What is your favorite movie or show right now?
LM: I’m a big movie guy. Favorite movie is probably Marvel’s Endgame, or Star Wars.
PI: Who is your favorite superhero?
LM: Ironman. Tony Stark. He’s just cool. Billionaire. Genius.
PI: What are the four phone apps you use the most?
LM: Instagram. Tik Tok. Snapchat. Twitter.
PI: Describe what you imagine your life will look like 10 years from now.
LM: Hopefully, I can still be playing basketball overseas or in the NBA even. Hopefully I have a young family of six. I want a wife and four kids. That’d be pretty cool.
PI: Why four kids?
LM: Not a reason. Just hoping for three girls and a boy.
PI: At the end of the day what do you want to be remembered for?
LM: What I was like off the court. I want to be known for how I helped others and my grades.
Watch the full interview with Liam, here