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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Illinois C Meyers Leonard

As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2012 NBA draft, we are profiling all players considered likely candidates to be drafted June 28. The Celtics [1] own three picks: 21, 22 (from the Thunder in the Kendrick Perkins [2] trade) and 51.


Position: Center

School: Illinois

Age: 20

Height: 7-foot-1

Weight: 250 pounds

Achievements: 2012 All-Big Ten honorable mention (coaches, media)

Key 2011-12 stats: 13.6 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, 73.2% FT

What he brings: At 7 feet tall, with a long wingspan and a developing frame that he should continue to fill out, Leonard is an athletic big man who runs the floor well and shows promise that he will become an above-average NBA center.

Leonard showed a decent — and improving — offensive touch in his sophomore season at Illinois in 2011-12 and is an imposing defensive presence with his length and tremendous quickness and mobility.

The knock on Leonard is that he’€™s very much a work in progress. Physically, his conditioning could improve and he is still working on his understanding and getting a feel for the game.

Where the Celtics could get him: Leonard’s stock has been rising and he is projected to be a late lottery pick, so the C’s would need to trade up to have a shot at him.

Notes: Leonard is arguably the second-best center prospect in the draft, behind UConn’€™s Andre Drummond, though UNC’€™s Tyler Zeller might get drafted ahead of Leonard. With four years of experience at the college level, Zeller is considered a much more NBA-ready player while Leonard is regarded as a two- or three-year project.

Recent articles:

The Big Lead: Meyers Leonard is now being strongly considered in the top 10 of the NBA draft [3]

Chicago Tribune: Leonard: ‘I’ve matured’ [4]

Michigan Live: Illinois 7-footer Meyers Leonard is considered raw project with tremendous potential [5]

Video: Here’s a nice package of Leonard highlights, mainly focusing on his passing and low-post ability.