The Black Keys

Leron Black's commitment on Sunday after his official visit was an important victory for Illinois coach John Groce. We take a look at Leron as a player and Leron as a milestone recruit.

Illinois landing Leron Black is a big deal for a number of reasons.

Following his decommitment from Baylor, Illinois was one of the first programs to reach out to the Memphis forward. It was a long battle to fight for his commitment, but John Groce was persistent.

So it's a big deal that he was able to close, especially while he was on the visit. Black was set to visit several others, including Baylor, who he was once committed to. Him committing now means he was sure enough of Illinois and Coach John Groce that he didn't feel the need to take the rest of his visits.

The commitment is also some important momentum with an important month of recruiting coming up soon. Illinois hosts Louisville, KY point guard Quentin Snider later this month for an unofficial visit. Having Black on board may make Illinois more enticing for the former Louisville commit.

And, of course, Illinois is still heavily pursuing Chicago Curie big man Cliff Alexander. And while Black plays the forward position, his role would be different than Alexander's. And plenty of Illini fans would relish in a tandem of Black and Alexander in the front court together.

Black provides some much needed athleticism at the forward position. Several forwards departed from Illinois after Groce's first year, so reloading at the position was crucial. Black is a guy who can post up his man as well as stretch the floor and step out to make plays.

As a player, Black brings a lot of different skills to the program. His versatility might be his most important asset. Ideally, Illinois would like to keep him at the 3 spot, but if needed, he can go inside and play the 4. Ultimately, if Illinois does land a commitment from Alexander, Cliff would play the 4 and Black the 3. But we'll cross that bridge at a later date.

Watching Black in the spring, he plays with a high motor. He was slightly hampered by injury and his conditioning had fallen behind during his recovery, so he didn't have the same bounce he had before. But Black was still an effective rebounder and gave full effort when in the game.

He's showing some progress on his game in the high post and stepped out a few times to hit mid-range and outside shots. As he enters college, he'll need to be able to create space for his own shots as well as post up and drive to the hoop. He won't be exclusively an "on the block" player because his athleticism would be wasted, but he's a guy who can do a lot of things for Groce and Illinois.

Black's impact in the transition game should be substantial as well. He hustles in the open floor and has great instincts to throw the long pass and accelerate the fast break. Black is said to be a hard worker, and as he goes through college, he should progress. Groce's system was the ideal fit for his style of play, and the comfort level Black already has with the staff should allow him to get going the day he steps on campus next summer.

Here are some highlights of Black's play from this spring:


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