Trail blazing: Leonard back in Illinois

Trail blazing: Leonard back in Illinois

At the end of the season, a lot of your teammates in Portland made public comments that your best days as a player are ahead of you. How did that make you feel?
I came in with (Damian Lillard), and he’s obviously a very good player — he’s up for two ESPYs right now — and coming in with him maybe put a little pressure on me to keep up with him, but I truly believe I will make an impact.

My teammates definitely do see me every day. I have to continue working my tail off to show LaMarcus (Aldridge) and Wesley (Matthews) and Nic (Batum), really all of my teammates, that I’m going to work hard and prove myself.

The fact that they said those things about me makes me feel good, but I have to go out there and prove them right.

Do you have a relationship with the current Illinois coaching staff?
I do. I’m obviously really close with Bruce (Weber), I still talk to Jay (Price), Wayne McClain, Jerrance (Howard), all those guys. They were all such good guys to me off the court, kind of molding me and holding myself to a high standard.

As far as the new coaching staff, I decided to leave shortly after they got there, but they never had any hard feelings.

I actually worked out with Jamall (Walker) a few times. Coach (John)Groce was cool about that. I talk to him every now and then. If they win a big game, I’ll text him to say, “Good job, great win,” and he’ll text me back. When I come to a football game, we’ll catch up. We’ve got a good relationship, and I talk to (Dustin) Ford every so often.

I’m happy for them. I think they’ve got a lot of young talent; they definitely have a chance to do some things this year. People don’t understand that the Big Ten is brutal.

Going on the road anywhere, even Northwestern, Penn State, Nebraska, they can get you, it’s no joke. I hope they have another successful season coming up.

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Moonpie wrote on June 26, 2014 at 1:06 pm

And certainly he has time to do a camp because this overrated player coming out of college is certainly not needed in the NBA.

brownt6 wrote on June 27, 2014 at 11:06 am

The hate that is carried in your responces, makes my life seem so much more enjoyable when I'm sipping on my margaretta on my deck. I use your responces to teach my children, my grandchildren, and someday my great grandchildren how not to act when traveling through this wonderful life. Keep up the great teaching moments, a please send a negatve responce.

hendrix1 wrote on June 26, 2014 at 8:06 pm

Great of him to take the time to come back to his hometown and spend it with with the youth.  Unfortunately, there are always the keyboard Napoleons (trolls) that will find fault with ANYTHING that someone they are obviously jealous of does!


arch73 wrote on June 26, 2014 at 9:06 pm

 At this point, Leonard has not done anything to prove that the Pie Person's assessment is incorrect.

bubbac wrote on June 27, 2014 at 11:06 am

GIve the guy a break, how much did you have on your resume' as a 22 year old kid? He is doing the best he can, trying to take care of his family, which is admrable and working hard to improve at his profession. What more do you want?

wolfe wrote on June 27, 2014 at 2:06 pm

My son is 8 and his grandfather has taken him to Meyer's camp three days this week.  He has had an absolute blast.  My father-in-law says he has never seen little kids work harder than they have.  My son is an up early and stay up late kid and has crashed on his way from the morning camp.   Great experience for a little kid from SOUTHERN ILLINOIS getting to meet an NBA player (and an Illini) from home.  Great of meyers to Give back to the small rural community he grew up in.   As far as his NBA career, he is a 7' tall athlete.  He will be fine.