Fighting Illini Meyers Leonard and Possibly Brandon Paul Declare for the 2012 NBA Draft

By Stephanie Umek

Earlier this week, Monday, Center Meyers Leonard made it public that he will be entering the NBA draft this season. Many feel though it is a dream of his that the money he makes and the opportunities he gets will help his mother, who is very sick.

Brandon Paul is still undecided on whether or not he will be following his teammate to a career in the NBA.

This past season, Leonard (7-1, 245) averaged 13.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks. Paul (6-4, 200) averaged 14.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists with 1.7 steals.

This draft stuff is getting so insane. Some of these guys, both Leonard and Paul mentioned here, are too young to be entering the draft. I hate to say it, but these two players do not seem to have the maturity built up yet to play at an NBA level. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that both players are going to be playing in the NBA…eventually.

With the season they had this past year and with a new coach coming it, I think it would be better for themselves and the team if they would both stay one more year to grow not only on their game but in their mind.

ESPN has reported that Leonard has “really grown up” in the past weeks. But that is only because he was contemplating on whether or not to join the draft. He has to be able to have that mindset 24/7. How many regular season games did national TV catch him crying on the bench after a loss? He’s not ready.

Not to mention the fact of how different this is going to make the Fighting Illini team. You think they didn’t do very well this past season? Subtract a 7-foot-1 center playing most of your defense. Imagine that. It’s going to be a huge difference without those rebounds, and blocks, let alone his offensive average of 14.7 points per game.

To me, Brandon Paul has a better mindset then Leonard, he is able to control himself more and be completely humble when the team needs him to be the leader. Paul is going to be a great NBA player, and though you see many players draft early, I hope for his sake he stays for his last year.

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