The men’s basketball team representing Australia at the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will include a player from Belleville, former Althoff High and St. Louis University basketball standout Kevin Lisch.
Now an Australian citizen after playing professionally in the country for several years, the 30-year-old Lisch was on the 12-man roster announced Sunday. He gained his Australian citizenship earlier this year on March 24.
The roster for the team Australians call the “Boomers” also includes two-time Olympian and NBA star Andrew Bogut and NBA players Matthew Dellavedova and Patty Mills. Lisch is one of six Australian players who will be making their Olympic debuts.
“I’m just proud of Kevin and happy for him and everything that he’s done,” said Althoff High basketball coach Greg Leib, who coached Lisch with the Crusaders. “I’ve always been a big fan of the kid and now I get to watch him in the Olympics.
“I’m just so happy for a kid like Kevin, who’s living proof that if you work hard enough and you believe you can become a basketball player. All this hard work, all the hours he’s put in, has paid off.”
Leib was overjoyed upon hearing the news, but also knew Lisch has a strong chance of making the cut.
“It’s a great thing for our area and our community to have somebody competing in the Olympics,” Leib said. “What a fun kid to coach.”
After some exhibition matches in Australia and South America, Lisch and the Australians open play at the Olympics on Aug. 6 against France. They will face Serbia on Aug. 8 before taking on Team USA Aug 10, followed by China Aug. 12 and finishing group play Aug. 14 against Venezuela.
Australia has never medaled in men’s basketball at the Olympics, finishing fourth in 1988, 1996 and 2000.
An all-state guard at Althoff, Lisch was twice named Belleville News-Democrat Player of the Year. He played at St. Louis University from 2005-09, averaging 14 points per game before later signing with the Perth Wildcats in Australia’s National Basketball League (NBL).
As a rookie in 2010-11, Lisch helped lead Perth to the NBL championship and was named Most Valuable Player in the NBL Finals.
Lisch also won the NBL league MVP award in 2011-12 after averaging 17.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists.
He also played professionally in Puerto Rico, France and Spain before returning to Australia and playing for the Illawarra Hawks, winning a second MVP award last season with the Hawks.
Lisch averaged 19.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists for Illawara last season while helping the Hawks to a third-place finish. He also was named the league’s top defensive player.
Lisch will play for the Sydney Kings this season.
Lisch’s wife, Rachel, played college basketball in the U.S. but is a native of Australia. They have two children, Benjamin and Sofia.
Lisch’s father is former Notre Dame and NFL quarterback Rusty Lisch, who starred at Belleville West.
The full Australia Boomers roster includes Lisch, David Andersen, Cameron Bairstow, Aron Baynes, Bogut, Ryan Broekhoff, Dellavedova, Chris Goulding, Joe Ingles, Damian Martin, Mills and Brock Motum.