Four-star forward Leron Black commits to Illinois

John Groce finally got his man.

The Illinois men’s basketball team gained its highest-profile recruit during Groce’s tenure when forward Leron Black told coaches Sunday that he would be coming to Illinois for college.

Black, a 6-foot-7 forward from Memphis, Tenn., is the highest-ranked recruit to commit to the Illini since 2010 McDonald’s All-American Jereme Richmond.

Black is a consensus top-40 recruit, ranked No. 22 by Rivals, No. 36 by ESPN and No. 38 by 247sports. He had been committed to Baylor but decided to open up his commitment. He was still considering the Bears, along with Indiana and Tennessee, and planned to visit the schools this fall.

He told the News-Gazette, who originally reported the commitment, that he will no longer be visiting the other schools.

Black becomes the second member of Illinois’ 2014 recruiting class, after Champaign Centennial’s 6-foot-9 forward Michael Finke gave his commitment last December. Black and Finke cannot officially sign with the Illini until Nov. 13

As of now, Black takes the final scholarship spot for the 2014-15 team. One more spot could open up if the eligibility waiver for Oregon State transfer Ahmad Starks is granted by the NCAA. Starks, who averaged 10.4 points per game as a junior last season, transferred to Illinois to be closer to his ailing grandmother, a reason that could allow him to play immediately.

Groce has two more high-profile 2014 recruits considering Illinois. Four-star point guard Quentin Snider, who decommitted from Louisville, is scheduled to visit Sept. 28, while five-star center Cliff Alexander, the No. 2 recruit in the nation, visited the Illini over the summer and tweeted Tuesday that he is still considering Illinois.

Alexander further fueled speculation when he tweeted “Leron is not a 4 (power forward) he’s a 3 (small forward)” denying that he and Black play the same position, possibly saying Black’s commitment would not stop him from coming to Illinois.

Johnathan can be reached at [email protected] and @jhett93.