Illinois’ Leron Black to forego final year of eligibility, pursue pro career

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It is a bittersweet day for Illinois basketball fans, as redshirt junior forward Leron Black will forego his final year of eligibility and pursue a professional basketball career.

Illinois coach Brad Underwood made the announcement on Thursday morning, noting that Black intends to sign with an agent as he looks to take the next step in his playing career.

“This was a very tough decision for me,” Black said in a press release. “I have loved my time at Illinois and have grown so much during my four years here. I’m thankful for the guidance from my coaches, my teammates, everyone at the Irwin Academic Center, and all the support staff who have helped make me the person and player I am today.”

Black had the best season of his career in 2017, all while earning his bachelor’s degree in communication.

In 31 games this season, Black averaged a career-high 15.3 points per game and had career-highs in field goal percentage (54.7 percent) and in 3-point percentage (51.2 percent). In addition, Black led the Illini in scoring, rebounding (5.2 rebounds per game), field goal percentage and 3-point field goal percentage in 2017.

He was the first Illinois player over the last 15 seasons to score 20 points or more in four consecutive games against Big Ten opponents. What’s more, Black scored in double figures in 13 of the team’s last 15 games, and in 26 of its last 31.

“Leron and I have had a number of discussions about his future since our season ended,” Underwood said in the press release. “He is ready to begin a pro career, and we fully support this decision. Leron has greatly improved over the last year and showcased that development as one of the most consistent players in the Big Ten. He was an efficient scorer at all areas of the court, shooting a high percentage whether it was on post-ups, the midrange, or out to the 3-point arc. He was one of the toughest players to guard in our league, and that showed with his production throughout conference play.”

Black made sure to thank Illini fans for supporting him during his four years at Illinois.

“I want to thank our fans for supporting me throughout everything I’ve been through these last four years,” Black said. “I’ll miss playing in front of the Orange Krush and all the great fans at State Farm Center.”

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