Tuesday, April 03, 2012
Sports News

Meyers Leonard declares for NBA draft

Illini center averaged 13.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks as a sophomore

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[April 03, 2012]  CHAMPAIGN -- University of Illinois sophomore center Meyers Leonard (Robinson, Ill./Robinson H.S.) announced on Monday that he would forgo his final two seasons of eligibility and enter the NBA draft.

Leonard was one of the most improved players in the nation this past season, averaging 13.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocked shots to earn honorable mention all-Big Ten. He ranked third in the conference in rebounding and field goal percentage (.584) while leading the league in blocks.

"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. "

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Leonard scored in double figures 21 times as a sophomore, led by a pair of career-high 22-point outings versus Richmond (Nov. 22) and Iowa (Feb. 26). He had six 20-point games on the year and was the UI's leading scorer in 10 games. He ranked third in the Big Ten with eight double-doubles and was the Illini's top rebounder in 21 games, led by a career-high 16 boards versus Cornell (Dec. 19). His 60 blocked shots were the second-highest single-season total in school history. He tallied a career-high six blocks in the season opener versus Loyola-Chicago (Nov. 11).

An academic all-Big Ten selection, Leonard plans to finish the spring semester while preparing for the draft, which will be on June 28.

[Text from Fighting Illini news release received from the University of Illinois]

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