Leron On Board

Memphis PF Leron Black had a rough spring, but he found his fit at Illinois and his best days are likely ahead of him. Here's a closer look at the Illinois signee and what his impact is expected to be.

Just a year ago, Leron Black was committed to Baylor and Illinois wasn't really even in the picture, but that all changed earlier this year when Black backed off of his commitment to the Bears and opened back up again.

Black, who held offers from Baylor, Florida, Indiana, Ohio State, UCLA, and others, planned to take several visits this fall, but after the Illinois visit, Black decided to end his recruitment and picked the Illini.

This spring wasn't the best for Black. Battling an ankle injury for most of the spring session, Black fell behind a bit on his conditioning and didn't have the same bounce that he usually has.

But make no mistake, Black's upside is noticeable and his ceiling is high.

Injury or not, one thing about Black that never changed was his motor. Black will always give 100% effort, and that's a big reason he should have a chance be successful at Illinois. Coach Groce wants his guys to play hard, and not many guys will give more effort than Black.

Skill-wise, he's always been a good rebounder, and when he's in shape, he elevates well and uses his long arms to beat opponents to rebounds. Black's athleticism allows him to guard several positions, and he's a strong-bodied player on top of that.

Black's versatility is another reason he could see the floor early in his career. Coach Groce likes to move around his lineups to exploit weaknesses in opponents and Black can play both the 3 and the 4 and could even defend the 5 if need be.

This spring, despite the nagging ankle injury, Black showed off an improved mid-range game. He can take his defender off the dribble and get to the hoop, but he's best either around the basket or catching and shooting in the 10-12 foot range.

Black will bring tenacity and motor on defense and will crash the offensive boards hard. It may still take him a while to develop his skill set more and adjust to the college game, but physically he's ready and as long as he stays healthy, Black should be able to carve out a role his freshman year.

Here are some highlights of Black from when we saw him this spring:


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