Liberty guard Brody Peebles details his growth in the game that has lead to greatness on the court
Flamethrower. That’s how Liberty University Head Coach Ritchie McKay described junior guard Brody Peebles after his 13-point outing against Charlotte. Those points helped propel the Flames to their second win of the 6-game win streak that they opened their season with, a prominent proponent of which was Peebles’ emergence into stardom.
Through Liberty’s first seven games of the season, Peebles has scored an outstanding 11.9 points per game, which is the second most on the team, while coming off the bench and playing the fifth most minutes per game.
“He’s an elite shooter,” McKay said. “(He’s) one of those guys that — I’ve probably had 15 of them in my career — every time he shoots it, you think it’s going in. So, I want him to keep throwing those flames.”
In his first season with the Flames, Peebles averaged 5.4 points per game while making 44.7 percent of his field goals, just under 40 percent of his 3-pointers (39.7%) and 67 percent from the free-throw line. In his sophomore campaign, Peebles improved his shooting from all three statistical zones, improving to 47.3 percent from the field, 41.3 percent from beyond the arc and 88.9 percent from the charity stripe. This season, Peebles’ scoring opportunities and points per game have taken a leap in the newest iteration of the Flames, and he’s been able to maintain his incredible shooting numbers while doing so.
Peebles is currently shooting 50.7 percent from the floor, 37.8 percent from three and 90 percent exactly from the stripe.
For some perspective, the goal for any shooter in an NBA or NCAA season is to end the year with a 50/40/90 season. That means they shot 50 percent (or better) from the field, 40 percent from the 3-point line and 90 percent from the free-throw line. There was not a single player who had a 50/40/90 split while also averaging more than 12 points per game in the entire NCAA last season, but with Peebles shooting and scoring the way that he is, that might be within reach for the junior.
“I think I’ve gotten better since I’ve been here,” Peebles said. “I worked on my game a lot. This summer I worked on trying to get my shot quicker, trying to be able to be more creative off the bounce and work on my finishing and touch around the rim. So, I think I just continue to develop since I’ve been here.”
His arrival at Liberty came after an illustrious and celebrated high school career at Hartselle High School in Alabama in which he scored 3,000 points in his four years on varsity. In his senior season, Peebles averaged 29.1 points per game and was named to the Alabama Basketball All-State 6A First Team.
The transition from being one of the five best players in a state to being one of many talented members on a collegiate roster can be an incredibly difficult transition for many athletes, but it’s one that Peebles was able to embrace and fight his way through.
“Yeah, I think it’s definitely a mental struggle and obviously a physical adjustment to college basketball,” Peebles said. “Guys are bigger, more athletic, better, and I think mentally it’s trying to carve out a way for yourself and trying to fight for confidence in yourself.”
Peebles arrived at Liberty at one of the best times in program history in 2021, right as the superstar pairing of Darius McGhee and Kyle Rode was finding its stride.
“I think it was fortunate to get to play behind great players, to see someone like (McGhee) play game in and game out and get to watch that and get to learn from him. And someone like (Rode), who has a lot of experience here, (has) been here for a long time, won a lot of games and trying to learn from those guys.”
“So,” Peebles continued, “I think it’s been a blessing in some ways to play behind some of those really good players because I wasn’t having to be thrown in the fire off the bat and get to learn from those guys and get to kind of see what they do, because I think success blazes a trail, you know what I’m saying? You can follow someone and you can follow the steps that they took to be successful.”
Playing behind incredible players most certainly has its perks, but it also provides a unique challenge for a player of Peebles’ caliber, waiting his turn.
In both his rookie and sophomore seasons, Peebles averaged under 17 minutes per game and less than six shots per game. This season Peebles is averaging nine shots per game, four of which are threes, and 22 minutes per game. In the world of movement that the transfer portal created, having a player of Peebles’ caliber who is willing to wait in line for his time to shine can be precious to a coach.
“(Peebles) decided to stay in a day and age where you’re looking for instant gratification or something that you want,” McKay said. “Maybe before it’s been earned. Brody’s waited this out, and he’s continued to develop.”
“I think God put it on my heart that I was supposed to be here. And I feel like when God puts (a desire) on your heart like that, you listen,” Peebles said. “I believe in what we’re doing here, and I believe in the culture we have and the way that Jesus is prioritized and the way that Coach (McKay) goes about things. So, it’s a no brainer. … I think sometimes things just take time, and I think people give up or can’t see it through. And I think God’s taught me a lot through trying to see it through.”
Palsgrove is the asst. sports editor for the Liberty Champion. Follow him on X