Posted by Deepak Jayanti on June 14th, 2012
- The NBA pre-draft combines are in full swing. Illinois’ Meyers Leonard continues to impress the scouts and is consistently shooting up the draft boards. Despite playing a handful of minutes as a freshman, he had a great sophomore season when he averaged 13.6 PPG, 8.2 RPG, and had a few jaw-dropping blocks to amount to 1.9 rejections per game. Leonard may not have the true post moves to become a dominant scorer at the next level but his physical attributes (7’1″, 250 lbs.) and work ethic are good enough to work as a defensive presence in the NBA. Leonard tries to model his game after defensive studs such as Joakim Noah and Tyson Chandler, which is a very reasonable comparison for somebody whose offensive game continues to evolve.
- More on the NBA Draft, Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger seems to be a consensus lottery pick, but may not be picked in the top five this year. A year ago, he was projected that high after his freshman season but he came back instead to lead the Buckeyes to the Final Four. Sullinger’s scoring remained the same between both seasons (17.5 PPG as freshman to 17.2 PPG as a sophomore) but he was able to improve his rebounding to 10.2 per game and show range in his jump shot after returning to Ohio State. Despite the drop on the draft boards, Sullinger has no regrets about coming back to Columbus. It is still unclear whether Sullinger is a true power forward in the NBA, but adding range to his game along with his tremendous intensity on the court should indicate to several NBA teams that he will improve over the years.
- Wisconsin fans can’t wait to see incoming freshman Sam Dekker in action. The 6’8″ forward is the reigning Mr. Basketball in Wisconsin and has been named to the USA Men’s Basketball under-18 roster. Most freshmen that begin their careers in Madison don’t come in with several accolades but Dekker is certainly an exception. If Ben Brust and Josh Gasser can try to take over point guard duties in the absence of Jordan Taylor, Dekker combined with Ryan Evans should form a formidable frontcourt next season for Bo Ryan.
- Both Big Ten coaches who were let go after last season have a new home in the Big 12. Bruce Weber took the job at Kansas State but he has company from former Nebraska coach Doc Sadler now at Kansas. Sadler is the new Director of Basketball Operations in Lawrence and replaces Barry Hinson who took the head coaching job at Southern Illinois University this offseason. Sadler was 101-89 at Nebraska but the newest addition to the B1G decided to take a new direction by letting him go last season. Sadler coached in the Big 12 for a few seasons and his experience ought to help Bill Self continue Kansas’ unparalleled dominance in the conference.
- Speaking of Bruce Weber, he would have needed a few big men on his roster if he would have stayed at Illinois. Current Illinois coach John Groce considers size a high priority as well and he recently received a verbal commitment from Maverick Morgan, a prep center from Ohio. Morgan is a 6’10″ center who is ranked #148 by Rivals as he enters his senior season this fall. Groce’s offense at Ohio has revolved around guards such as D.J. Cooper but Morgan along with current sophomore Mike Shaw will have to play a key role in rebounding, especially during the Big Ten campaign.