In a season of nothing but bad news for Illinois basketball, more bad news has arrived.
Leron Black, a sophomore big man who's spent nearly the entire season out of action with a knee injury, was arrested Thursday for aggravated assault, allegedly pulling a knife on a club bouncer, according to the Champaign News-Gazette.
Head basketball coach John Groce announced an indefinite suspension for Black on Friday morning.
(University of Illinois Police Lt. Tom) Geis said the security guard told police that Black and others were inside the club and that security was trying to remove people when “Black became very belligerent and hostile toward the security guard,” Geis said.
“(Black) yelled ‘I don’t have a strap but I’m not afraid to cut somebody,’” Geis said. “Then the security guard said he pulled the knife, opened it and put it within one to two inches of his nose.”
According to the News-Gazette, Black is scheduled to appear in court Friday afternoon and will be charged with aggravated assault, a Class 4 felony.
Black has appeared in just seven games this season, hampered by the after effects of preseason surgery to repair a torn meniscus. Along with Mike Thorne Jr. and Tracy Abrams, Black is one of three projected Illini starters who have missed the majority if not the entirety of the season.
This is the second arrest of an Illinois player since the end of last season. Darius Paul, who returned to the Illini via transfer after he suspended for the entire 2014-15 season because of a different arrest, was arrested and charged with vandalism, public intoxication and resisting arrest in France during the team's summer European trip. When the Illini returned to the United States, Groce dismissed Paul from the program.
It's unsure what fate awaits Black regarding his status with the team. Black was a solid contributor as a freshman a season ago, starting 10 games and averaging five points and 4.3 rebounds in 14.8 minutes per game over 33 games.
This is just the latest in a nightmarish two seasons for Groce and the Illinois basketball program, which has dealt with an onslaught of injuries to key players, missed out on top-flight recruits and dealt with multiple off-the-court issues. Combined with the play on the court, wins haven't been in ample supply, and this season looks to be the third straight without an NCAA tournament appearance.