Updates from Illinois basketball media day
October 8, 2015
Illinois men’s basketball head coach John Groce announced Thursday that sophomore forward Leron Black has a torn meniscus in his knee that will require surgery.
According to Groce, Black’s unofficial timetable is 4-6 weeks of recovery — he will have surgery Friday. Groce made the announcement as a part of his opening statement at Illinois basketball’s media day. If Black’s rehab falls on the later side of that prognosis, he could miss some early season games.
Black averaged 5 points and 4.3 rebounds for Illinois his freshman season.
The injury bug has bitten the Illini in multiple ways. Already missing fifth-year senior point guard Tracy Abrams, Illinois is also currently without junior point guard Jaylon Tate, who is recovering from a concussion.
Tate and fifth-year transfer Khalid Lewis are expected to share the point guard duties with Abrams sidelined for the year with a torn Achilles.
Illinois opens the season against North Florida on November 13.
Freshman Jalen Coleman-Lands is on track to return Nov. 1. Coleman-Lands has been sidelined with a stress fracture in his left leg.
Groce praised the freshman’s shooting ability and athleticism Thursday.
The Illini head coach also had positive things to say about freshman D.J. Williams: Groce said Williams has the athleticism and skill set to play four positions — all but center — while at Illinois. Williams is one of three players on Illinois’ roster — the other being Kendrick Nunn and Tate — to play at Chicago’s Simeon Career Academy.
Groce said that he expects juniors Nunn and Malcolm Hill to emerge as team leaders this season, and added that his standard for them is “through the ceiling” this season. The pair are the team’s leading returning scorers: Hill averaged 14.4 points last season and Nunn averaged 11.1.
Hill was the only player on the 2014-15 team that played more than 1,000 minutes and the only player on last year’s team who attempted more than 100 free throws. He’s also the team’s leading returning rebounder.
Nunn started 2014 on the bench, but ended up averaging 30.2 minutes per game. He’s also the team’s best returning 3-point shooter, making 38.9 percent of his shots from beyond the arc last season.
During his press conference, Groce mentioned recently graduated Illini Nnanna Egwu, who is playing with the Orlando Magic in the NBA.
Egwu was signed to the Magic’s training camp roster and will play in their preseason game Thursday night in Indianapolis against the Pacers.