Former Badger expected to be drafted in second round
Leuer grew 10 inches during his four years at Orono High School and arrived at Wisconsin in 2007 an intriguing 6-foot-10 prospect, albeit weighing about 190 pounds.
Long before his head and shoulders soared toward the stars, Leuer embraced a dream shared by thousands of basketball players:
To reach the National Basketball Association.
“For me, it’s what I’ve always wanted to do,” Leuer said recently. “I played football, baseball and basketball growing up, but basketball was always my biggest passion, what I loved the most.
“That was always my goal, ever since I can remember.”
The goal should become reality sometime during Thursday’s NBA draft (6 p.m., ESPN). Leuer appears to have an outside chance of being selected late in the first round but more likely will be taken in the second round. A mock draft on NBADraft.net has Leuer going 40th overall, the 10th pick of the second round, to Milwaukee.
ESPN college basketball analyst Len Elmore, who played 10 seasons professionally, believes Leuer could be a first-round pick.
“He is an extraordinarily skilled guy for a guy his size, particularly on the perimeter,” Elmore said last month during ESPNU’s coverage of the NBA combine in Chicago. “He handles it, goes to the basket strong and certainly shoots it with range.”
Leuer, listed at 6-11 and 223 pounds, averaged 18.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game as a senior at UW. He shot 37 percent from three-point range and 47 percent overall and helped the Badgers reach the NCAA Sweet 16.
However, he struggled in UW’s 61-54 loss to Butler in New Orleans. Leuer made just 1 of 6 three-point attempts, 1 of 12 field-goal attempts overall, and finished with three points and six rebounds in 33 minutes.
“Now, he didn’t have a good NCAA Tournament,” Elmore said, “particularly the game they lost to Butler where he was literally shut down. But I think that was more a product of the intensity of the Butler defense as opposed to Jon Leuer not being able to compete.
“Because this is a guy who has shown time and time again he knows how to score. And he knows also how to be able to play some defense on the perimeter despite being 6-10. ...
“I think he’s got some skill and I think he is worth a strong look in the first round.”
The consensus scouting report on Leuer:
A skilled, face-up power forward who can stretch defenses with solid outside shooting but lacks the base and lower-body strength to hold his ground near the basket.
“I just need to continue to get stronger,” Leuer said. “I came a long way by developing my body over four years at Wisconsin. (They) did a great job turning a 190-pound kid into a 230-pound man, I guess you could say. “But the NBA is a physical game. If I can continue to get stronger that could really benefit my game.”
In addition to being invited to the combine, Leuer had a series of workouts with individual teams. The list included Miami, Boston, Oklahoma City, Indiana and Chicago. He was also among a dozen prospects who worked out in Minnesota in front of more than two dozen NBA scouts and executives.