NCAA Talk

Illini's Leonard shooting high in 2012 NBA Draft

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Illini's Leonard shooting high in 2012 NBA Draft

His college resume is thin to say the least, but at 7-foot-1 and 240 pounds, Meyers Leonard's NBA hopes aren't as slim as you might think.

The draft is short on centers, which bodes well for the former Illini big man who has already drawn interest from several NBA teams. The most logical spot for Meyers to land is Milwaukee at No. 12 since the Bucks need to replace Andrew Bogut, whom they traded to Golden State in March.

But, depending on how things shake out, Leonard could land in the Top 10. You figure UConn's Andre Drummond and North Carolina's Tyler Zeller will go first, leaving Leonard as the third center available, and if a team really wants a big man, they may take a reach with the Big Ten's leading shotblocker.

Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle told me at the NBA Pre-Draft camp Thursday that Golden State was very high on Leonard and might take a flyer on him as a back-up to Bogut. It's hard to believe the relatively inexperienced Leonard would go seventh, but after talking to several people at the combine, I'm starting to think anything is possible.

The downside to Leonard, of course, is his lack of maturity on the court in terms of basketball skills and mentality. At Illinios, he was prone to emotional outbursts at times, which led to run-ins with head coach Bruce Weber, but Leonard insists he's grown-up and learned a lot from his two years in Champaign.

"With Coach Weber, they just wanted me to be the best I could be," explained Meyers who spoke to Weber the night before the combine. "I appreciate the way they pushed me to be the best I can be. I don't think the word immaturity or emotionally unstable is right at all. Most people know I'm willing to work hard. I'm just going to continue to prove to people that I've matured."

Leonard might be able to convince NBA coaches he has the right mental makeup to play in the NBA, but most think he's still a project. It's one more label Leonard has had to deal with, but this one doesn't rub him the wrong way.

"I don't take it hard, everyone has their opinion," said Leonard. "Everyone can get better at the game. I take it as they see potential in me. It's not a negative comment, I understand I have to come to the gym and get better and develop."

So Leonard is putting in the time, working out three times a day, eating right and getting his rest. And, the Robinson, Ill., native is extra motivated to fulfill his NBA dreams for family reasons to help finance medical care for his mother who suffers from health problems and to make his brother, who just returned from serving a second tour of duty in Afghanistan, proud.

"The first day I walked in the gym, a guy asked me what my motivation was. I said 'my mom and being able to help her is a heartwarming feeling,'" said a determined Leonard. "And my brother is in California finishing his duties. I have so much love and respect for him."

Leonard is hoping the good feelings continue come draft day. He should go in the first round, projected by most to be taken in the 20s, which isn't bad for a kid with so little experience or national recognition. For Illini fans, he'll become the first NBA draft pick out of Illinois in seven years and the first one recruited by the departed Bruce Weber.

Yes, first round for Leonard sounds pretty good. But, if something magical were to happen for the 20-year old on June 28th, he could become a lottery pick (the first one for the Illini since Deron Willams went third in 2005).

And, that sounds even better.

DePaul extends contract of women's basketball head coach Doug Bruno through 2023-24

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USA TODAY

DePaul extends contract of women's basketball head coach Doug Bruno through 2023-24

One of the icons of DePaul athletics is sticking around.

Monday, DePaul extended the contract of women's basketball head coach Doug Bruno through the 2023-24 season. Bruno just wrapped up his 32nd season as head coach of his alma mater, leading DePaul to its 16th consecutive NCAA Tournament.

While the Blue Demons were eliminated in the Round of 32 this March, Bruno has led the program to the Sweet 16 three of the last eight seasons.

“I am so thankful to be working at a great institution like DePaul,” Bruno said in a press release. “I never would have been here without coach Ray Meyer who gave me a basketball scholarship, Frank McGrath and Gene Sullivan who hired me in the 1970s."

Behind Bruno, DePaul went 27-8 in 2017-18, winning its fifth-straight Big East regular-season title. The Blue Demons also won their third Big East Tournament title in five years, defeating rival Marquette 98-63. Bruno also picked up his 700th career victory in February, defeating conference-foe Butler 86-68.

“I’ve been fortunate to have great assistant coaches through all the years,” he said. “My current staff is absolutely one of the best in the country.

"Most important, the reason you succeed is the players. I’ve been blessed to have tremendous student-athletes help build the DePaul women’s basketball legacy.

“I am excited about this contract extension because we still have work to do. As proud as we are of everything we have achieved, our expectation through the length of this extension is to take the Blue Demons to even higher places.”

 

Loyola rewards Porter Moser with multi-year contract extension

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USA TODAY

Loyola rewards Porter Moser with multi-year contract extension

Loyola is rewarding Porter Moser for his basketball team's success this season.

Loyola and Moser have agreed to a multi-year contract extension, the team announced Wednesday. The deal is through the 2025-26 season.

"We are excited to be able to announce a new contract for Porter that will keep him at Loyola a long time," Loyola Director of Athletics Steve Watson said. "He is the perfect fit for Loyola and operates his program the right way, with student-athletes who achieve excellence on the court and in the classroom and are also excellent representatives of the institution.

"We are fortunate to work at a university like Loyola, that values and has made a commitment to athletics. It is nice to reward Porter not just for an outstanding season, but also for the job he has done during his time here."

That's a well-deserved extension for a head coach who led the Ramblers to a NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1985.

As the 11th seed, Loyola exceeded all expectations, shocking the world with a Final Four appearance. The Ramblers took down No. 6 Miami, No. 3 Tennessee, No. 7 Nevada, and No. 9 Kansas State before losing to No. 3 Michigan, who would go on to lose to No. 1 Villanova in the championship game.

Loyola finished the regular season with a 28-5 record and a MVC Championship.

In seven seasons, Moser has a 121-111 record with the Ramblers, though three of his last four have been winning seasons.