By James Blackburn
Game Scouted: Chicago State at Illinois
Illinois wins 90-43
Meyers Leonard (C, 7’1”, Sophomore)
3-6 FG, 3-3 FT, 9 TP
Plays passing lanes on perimeter-rare to see a 7’ able to do this. Good FT shooter. Hides behind zone – able to get to grey areas- has hands ready and is ready to attack basket. Good passer against the zone. Moves very well for size- can defend on perimeter- showed the ability to closeout, contest, and then slide feet. Pure stroke- excellent midrange shooter- gets feet set, good form, and good arc-soft touch. Incredible athlete- plays way above rim- high flyer. Highlight reel waiting to happen. NBA ready from an athletic standpoint. Showed the ability in the second half to finish through contact. Good on ball defender- stays big in post D- tries to block everything- leads team in that area with 3.6 bpg. Solid rebounder- boxes out and corrals ball. Showed the ability to put ball on floor and attack basket- moves like a SF- not a 7’.
Looks lazy when getting back on defense- seems to jog back on that side of floor. Doesn’t fully commit at times- needs to be more active on both ends- coasts through some plays- Needs to play every possession and dominate every play because of his incredible athleticism and skills set. Seemed to just go through the motions at times and looked more concerned about getting highlight dunks and blocks instead of just playing all the way through a possession. Needs to add muscle and get stronger- got bumped off the block several times.
Did not show much in the area of offensive post moves- Chicago State played a zone most of the game- and they put Leonard in the middle or behind zone- did not look to post up hard ball side.. More style than substance. Raw offensive post game. Got caught out of position defensively and lost track of man- resulted in him getting dunked on by smaller players.
Very high ceiling- great size, shot blocking skills, plays way above rim, and moves exceptionally well for a player of his size. Out of all the players featured in our sleeper report segment, Leonard has the biggest upside and has the best opportunity to play in the NBA. Seems to run the floor harder on offensive end than on defensive end. Needs to add weight and strength- but with body type- should be able to add muscle easily. Granted he had a big height advantage and skill advantage on an over matched Chicago State team that has yet to register a win, but the skills and play that Leonard showed today translate.
Ready for a breakout season- big improvement from last season to this season. Averages 12.6 pgg and leads the team with 7.6 rpg. These numbers are up after only averaging 8 mpg and 2 ppg last year as a freshman, after being a top 50 recruit out of HS.
Does things that the average 7’ can’t or would even consider doing. Big time player that NBA scouts and fans will become more familiar with as Illinois enters conference play. With his shooting ability and his high sill set to go along with his ability to play the mid post area, I can see him playing the PF position in the NBA. I can see him in a system like the Lakers run, where he can play both the PF and C positions, as Paul Gasol, Bynum, and Odom do.