PHOENIX (WCIA) — WCIA 3’s Craig Choate has a live report from Phoenix, AZ where former Illini basketball standouts Meyers Leonard and Kendrick Nunn will play with the Miami Heat against the Phoenix Suns.
It’s been an eventful year for Leonard, when he was traded from the Portland Trailblazers to Miami in the off season. It’s a move that has paid off for Leonard, who has started in all 7 games for the Heat this season.
Leonard also says he still bleeds Orange and Blue and watches the Illini as much as he can. Illinois is out on the west coast as well, they tip-off against Grand Canyon University on Friday night. Leonard took that chance to catch up with several of the coaches and players.
“I keep up, pretty closely really. Just cause I care,” says Leonard. “I grew up loving Illinois basketball. Obviously, went there for two years and like you said it’s been a transition period but I feel like they’re in a really good spot right now.”
Leonard also weighed in on the Illini’s tournament expectations. Leonard went to the NCAA tournament his freshman year. The last time the program made the tournament was in 2013.
“I mean it would mean a lot, that’s obviously the goal every year,” says Leonard. “Programs naturally, NBA teams, any team is always going to go through a transition faze where you wonder well why the heck aren’t we winning? Do you want it to be that way? No. But being around those guys and seeing the talent on the roster, it’s cool to see where they’re heading, so Illinois basketball is heading the right direction.”
Kendrick Nunn has also earned a great start with the Heat, the former Illini is currently the leading scorer for Miami in his rookie season.