Meyers Leonard looks back before taking off for NBA

Leonard said he has favorable memories of his brief career at Illinois. He keeps in touch with some of his former teammates, speaks often with Weber and recently had dinner with former assistant Jerrance Howard and former teammate Crandall Head in Dallas.

"It was a good experience (at Illinois)," Leonard said. "I came in my freshman year pretty highly recruited. I loved the coaching staff and loved the guys on the team. I kind of went through the freshman grind and didn't play as much as I expected to, playing behind two senior bigs, who I respected. I really made a turn after that season.

"I knew I had a chance to be a starter and a leader. This past year, we had our ups and downs, there's no doubt about it. But the thing that remained constant is we had a great group of people. I loved every minute of it with them. Every step in life you learn lessons and become more mature. That was all part of it."

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