In the Oklahoma Christian University men’s basketball victory against long-time rival Southern Nazarene University, sophomore Will Leinhard blocked four shots, grabbed eight rebounds and added six points Nov. 25.
Leinhard, from Oklahoma City, OK, graduated from Bishop McGuinness High School in 2015. While playing basketball there, he made an appearance at the state championship three years in a row, starting when he won the state championship his freshman year and was runner-up the two subsequent years.
After graduating from Bishop McGuinness, Leinhard was recruited to play basketball for the United States Naval Academy. However, following a summer of boot camp, Leinhard said he realized the commitment would be more than basketball, so he decided to continue his basketball career at Oklahoma State University.
Playing as a walk-on at Oklahoma State for two years, Leinhard appeared in 13 games for the Cowboys and recorded his first collegiate points against University of North Carolina November 22, 2017.
Leinhard transferred to Oklahoma Christian for the 2017-2018 basketball season.
In his first game wearing an Oklahoma Christian uniform, Leinhard contributed four points, five blocked shots and five rebounds for the Eagles against Texas A&M University–Commerce. Leinhard received Eagle of the Week honors after his debut performances against Texas A&M–Commerce and Cameron University.
Q: What were your greatest successes throughout your high school basketball career?
A: Freshman year, I started a little bit and it was a good year. We had a great team. We won state, so that was fun. Next two years, we got runner-up both years. A lot of people don’t get to make it to state, so that was a good experience. Senior year was a little tougher, but I still enjoyed it. I loved playing in high school and sometimes I wish I could go back to it. It was a different atmosphere, and I miss it.
Q: Where did your basketball skills and talents take you after you graduated from high school?
A: I went to the Navy and was going to play basketball there. I was there for the summer at boot camp and it didn’t really work out. It was just a lot more than basketball. Then, I made a call to Coach Travis Ford at Oklahoma State at the time. He kind of knew me from Oklahoma and he said I could come walk on. I was excited, because that was my dream school growing up. The last two years, I was a walk-on at Oklahoma State and I loved every minute of it. It was definitely good for me as a player to get the experience and the atmosphere was cool.
Q: What did you experience while playing basketball at Oklahoma State?
A: I was probably the biggest Oklahoma State fan my whole life, so I was able to walk-on there and this is a chance that some people never get. It was a lot of hard work and a lot of fun. I got to travel and everything. I went to Hawaii last year and played in Maui. I played against North Carolina. My freshman year, I didn’t play a whole lot, but last year, I got some meaningful minutes here and there.
Q: How did being a walk-on affect your outlook on basketball itself and playing at Oklahoma State?
A: You definitely have to work harder. Sometimes I’ll look back at high school and think, “I could have worked even harder than I did.” I have to work harder to even get them to think about me, not even just to play, but just to get them to think about me. It definitely made me push harder and understand and love the game even more, because if you’re not playing, it’s kind of hard to still want to be there. It definitely helped me in my personal and basketball career.
Q: Why did you choose to leave Oklahoma State?
They’re going through a new coach, who was the assistant last year. I had a talk with him and I just kind of said “I like it here, but I just kind of want to go somewhere where I might have the chance to play a lot more. I still want to play a lot more and I still think I can play a little bit, so I’m probably going to leave.” They were cool with it. They understood and they were helpful.
Q: Because Oklahoma Christian is in a rebuilding season, did the opportunity to be a part of something different draw you to the program?
A: Yeah, definitely. I mean, to be honest, I didn’t really know how well they did last year until Coach Cole told me, but then he also told me how they almost had a whole new team this year. The returners they had, Miroslav Jaksic, Elijah Strickland, Abel Rodriguez and Connor Johnson, were solid and they got all these new guys. It was kind of exciting to have a new experience. I could tell that we were going to be something special and we still are. I think we’re going to have a good year.