INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — "Big Will" will return to the basketball court for Oklahoma Christian for the 2019-20 season.
The university received formal notice Friday from the NCAA that Will Lienhard, a 6-foot-8 center from Oklahoma City who led NCAA Division II in rebounding last season, will be granted eligibility for all but one game of the 2019-20 campaign.
As a freshman at Oklahoma State during the 2015-16 season, Lienhard — then a walk-on for the Cowboys — played only the final 61 seconds of one game, a 69-48 win over Texas Christian.
Lienhard left OSU after the 2016-17 season to transfer to OC, where he has developed into a standout. He was named as last season's Heartland Conference's co-defensive player of the year, averaging 8.3 points, 12.7 rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots per game. In addition to leading Division II in rebounding, he ranked ninth nationally in blocked shots. Lienhard grabbed 21 rebounds in a game three times this season.
OC and Lienhard appealed to the NCAA's Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement for another season of eligibility, based on his limited game action in 2015-16. The committee granted the appeal on the condition Lienhard sits out the Eagles' first regular-season contest of the 2019-20 season.
"I'm not only happy for our program, but I am also happy for Will," OC coach Kendre Talley said. "He deserves this final season. Will is an outstanding player, but an even better young man. He brings a ton of leadership and makes us a better defensive team.
"It shows how much this program means to Will that he made the decision to go through this process to be here another season. I am thankful for him and his family and excited to be able to coach him next season."