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Meyers Leonard

Scouting Report

Any athletic 7-footer is guaranteed to garner interest in the NBA draft, and although Leonard still has plenty of room for improvement, his performance at Illinois was enough to make him a sure first-round pick. The Fighting Illini lost 12 of their final 14 games in a hugely disappointing 2011-12 season, but their sophomore center emerged with some promising efforts down the stretch. He scored 18 or more points four times in his final five collegiate games, shooting 9 of 11 in the Big Ten tournament loss against Iowa. That still wasn't enough to extend the team's season, and with coach Bruce Weber fired, Leonard decided to declare for the draft. Overall last season, he averaged 13.6 points on 58.4 percent shooting along with 8.2 rebounds, all major jumps from a freshman campaign that saw him get limited minutes. NBA scouts may see even more progress ahead, assuming the 20-year-old big man continues to get more consistent. Leonard still tends to fall silent at times, but he moves well for such a large player and he has a soft touch - evidenced by his 73.2 percent free-throw shooting from the most recent campaign. That proves he can knock down mid-range shots, a real asset to complement his obvious interior game. His length makes him an automatic force on the boards and on defense, where he blocked 1.9 shots per game in 2011-12, and he could grow more dominant in those areas. Drafting centers can be a risky endeavor, but Leonard seems to have the tools to develop into an effective NBA big man.

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