Former Illini star Leonard out to prove maturity level
As much as his 7-foot-1 frame and shot-blocking ability have earned him attention, Meyers Leonard also finds himself explaining to possible employers his on-court emotions.
Some – including his former coach Bruce Weber at Illinois – have described him as immature. But Leonard has told teams, including those at Thursday’s NBA predraft camp at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, that his emotions are a positive.
“I don’t think the word immaturity or emotionally unstable is right at all,” he said. “I’m just going to continue to prove to people that I’ve matured and it’s more about caring and wanting to be the best I can be.”
Leonard, who left the Illini with two seasons of eligibility remaining, is expected to be a top-20 pick in the June 28 draft. He has worked out for the Trail Blazers, Celtics and Hornets.
Leonard has been tagged as a “potential” player throughout his college career, but he doesn’t take that as a slight.
“I don’t take it hard at all,” he said. “Everybody can get better at the game. I take it more that they’re praising me that I have potential. I’m just coming out here to show I want to learn and get better.”
In a class light on big men, Leonard hopes his chances of landing early in the first round are strong.
“I have to continue to prove myself in every aspect of this,” Leonard said. “I want to show that I’m not only a good big, but as good as some of those other guys.”
Stats at Illinois: 13.6 points (per game), 8.2 rebounds, 1.9 blocks