In what comes as no surprise, Illinois sophomore center Meyers Leonard has declared for the NBA draft.
“This was a very difficult decision because I love the University of Illinois,” Leonard said. “But I feel the timing is right for me to follow my dream of playing in the NBA and having the opportunity to provide for my mom and family. I want to thank everyone in the Illini program for their support these past two years. It starts with Coach Weber, who has always believed in me. He taught me so much about the game of basketball and helped me mature as both a player and a person. I will miss all my teammates; we’ve been through so much together and I consider them my brothers. The future is bright here and under the direction of Coach Groce, I know they’ll be successful. Finally, I want to thank the fans for their incredible support. It was a dream come true to represent my state school and play at the Assembly Hall. I will always be an Illini. ”
This past season, Leonard earned honorable mention all-Big Ten while averaging 13.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. Leonard is by all accounts a projected lottery pick in the upcoming NBA draft. According to NBADraft.net, Leonard is projected to go 12th overall to New Orleans. They compare him to Robin Lopez and say his strengths are his athletic ability, passing, and offensive awareness, while they say his weaknesses are his inconsistent motor, weight, and a lack of a go-to move.