Leron Black’s indefinite suspension is over, but he will miss the first four games of the 2016-17 season.
The Illinois sophomore forward was reinstated from his indefinite suspension, the team announced Friday, with head coach John Groce suspending Black for the first six games of the upcoming season — two exhibition games and four regular-season games — following his pulling a knife on a nightclub bouncer in February.
“Leron used extremely poor judgment on the night of Feb. 18,” Groce said in the release. “He has taken responsibility for his actions, showing remorse and growing as a person from this situation. He will now begin the process of earning his way back to full status with the team, participating in offseason skill, strength and conditioning workouts. The decision to suspend him is firm but fair. The expectation moving forward is that he makes championship choices daily.”
Black’s arrest kicked off a string of legal situations for Illini players. In March, junior guards Kendrick Nunn and Jaylon Tate were charged with domestic battery in separate incidents.
While the legal process has yet to fully play out for Nunn and Tate, who both remain indefinitely suspended, Black pleaded guilty last month to a misdemeanor version of the original charge and entered a second-chance program, completing 20 hours of public service and paying a $200 fine in addition to receiving a sentence of 12 months of conditional discharge. Those details from the Champaign News-Gazette.
“I regret my actions and am sorry to those I have hurt,” Black said in the announcement. “I knew right away that I had made a serious mistake, and I apologize to my family for the disruption and embarrassment this has caused them and for the negative light that has been cast upon our basketball program. This has been a very difficult time in my life because of the pain that comes from knowing I let so many people down. I have learned a lot about myself in the months that have passed, and one positive to draw from this is I know I stand here today a better person. I am committed to regaining the trust of everyone, including my teammates, coaches and Illini fans.”
Following a promising freshman campaign, Black was slated to start in the Illinois front court as a sophomore, but he missed almost the entirety of last season recovering from preseason knee surgery. He appeared in just seven games last season, scoring a total of 31 points.
Black’s Friday-night reinstatement solves one of several ongoing offseason mysteries for the Illini, though the team’s roster situation for next season remains hazy. In addition to waiting on the outcomes of the legal situations of Nunn and Tate, Illinois is waiting to see if Mike Thorne Jr. will receive another season of NCAA eligibility after appearing in only eight games last season. Plus, the Illini are one of the final options for Class of 2016 point guard Charlie Moore, the state’s Mr. Basketball who decommitted from Memphis last month.