Illinois sophomore big man Meyers Leonard will forgo his final two years of eligibility and remain in the 2012 NBA Draft field, he announced on Monday.
Leonard is an incredibly skilled big man and has an NBA-ready body. His maturity has come into question numerous times in his tenure at Illinois, but that really seems to be his only knock at this point. Most draft experts project Leonard as a late lottery-pick, somewhere in the 10-15 region.
The decision to leave school for the NBA comes during a coaching change in Champaign. Sources indicate that a desire to provide for his family, including his older brother in the Marine Corps, as major factors in the decision. If Leonard goes as high as he is projected, he should get a guaranteed contract and a spot on an NBA roster.
With the right coaching and mentoring from veteran players, Leonard could blossom into a star center at the next level. He has the physical tools already and now it is just a matter of whether or not he will realize his full potential.