Small-Town Product Has Big-Name Interest

Robinson (Ill.) big man Meyers Leonard grew six inches between his freshman and sophomore seasons, and the recruiting interest has sky-rocketed as a result. Leonard talks about his offers and his unofficial visits, which included a trip to Bloomington last month...

As Meyers Leonard has grown in stature, he's also grown in popularity.

As a freshman, the Robinson (Ill.) H.S. player was a 6-4 forward who wasn't getting the sort of attention that many elite recruits get early on in their prep careers. But after shooting to 6-10 following a growth spurt last summer, Leonard has quickly become a name-to-know among coaches for the 2010 class.

"I have been getting a lot more attention, and I really didn't think it was going to be like this," Leonard said. "It's surprised me."

The rise in interest isn't only a result of his increased size, but also because of his improved play. He averaged around 15 points and eight rebounds as a sophomore on a Robinson H.S. team that was just 9-15, but he's followed that up with some very impressive play on the AAU circuit this spring and summer. He caught plenty of people's attention at the Reebok All-America Camp in Philadelphia earlier this month, and he's now gearing up for a trip to Las Vegas where he'll be playing with the Team Ramey AAU squad. has labeled the 6-10, 200-pounder as the nation's 43rd best player in the 2010 class, and the attention and notoriety has been a bit of a shock to Leonard, who hails from a town of less than 7,000 that sits near the Illinois-Indiana border.

While the attention has been a surprise, it's also been welcomed. When he hasn't been busy with his AAU team he's been traveling to a handful of schools to make unofficial visits, Indiana included. Leonard said he was in Bloomington about 3-4 weeks ago to meet the coaching staff, tour the campus and play with members of the basketball at open gym.

"I like Coach (Tom) Crean – he's a nice guy," said Leonard, who also made unofficials to Purdue, Illinois nad Southern Illinois last month. "He talked to me a lot about the team's tradition and how good it is there as a basketball program."

Indiana offered Leonard a scholarship during his visit, making the Hoosiers one of six programs to offer along with Purdue, Iowa, Southern Illinois, Indiana State and Missouri State. Leonard said he's heard both Illinois and Virginia are about to offer as well.

One of the things that so many schools like about Leonard is he's a big man who has the size to defend in the paint but also present mismatches for opponents with some of the skills he developed when he wasn't necessarily the biggest man on the court.

"I've been able to really develop my passing skills, and I'm able to shoot it from outside," Leonard said.

Those are traits any college coach would like to have in a big man, Indiana included. The Hoosiers figure to have plenty of recruiting competition for Leonard, most notably from Illinois which is closing in on extending a scholarship offer.

"It's kind of a big draw (to go to Illinois), because I grew up around there and my mom would be able to watch me," Leonard said.

While that might be good news to Illini Coach Bruce Weber, Leonard said he isn't about to make a decision anytime soon.

"Academics are important and I want to find somewhere I fit in," Leonard said. "But I'm a long way away from deciding." Top Stories