Meyers Leonard demonstrated how much a player's NBA stock can rise in one season when he was taken with the No. 11 overall pick in Thursday's NBA draft by the Portland Trail Blazers.
"Just to be selected this high ... is unbelievable," Leonard told the Chicago Tribune. . "I'm just going to come in and be the best I can be."
Leonard was the second pick of the first round for Portland and new general manager Neil Olsey, who took point guard Damian Lillard with the No. 6 overall selection.
The 7-1 Leonard played only two years at Illinois, but as a freshman he averaged just 10 minutes, 2.1 points and 1.2 rebounds a game.
This season, as a sophomore, he improved that to 13.6 points and 8.2 rebounds. He is big and athletic, and can shoot to out to 15 feet.
His draft stock seemed to rise as a he worked out for the various clubs, demonstrating his varied skills and his athleticism.
Leonard is the first Illini player drafted since Dee Brown was taken 46th in 2006, and no Illinois p[layer has been taken higher than 11th since Deron Williams was selected third overall in 2005.