Two of Illinois' most important front court pieces are returning to the practice court. John Groce recently informed CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein that sophomore forward Leron Black (knee) has been cleared for full-contact drills. Additionally, senior center Mike Thorne Jr. (meniscus) has finally been given the green light to begin non-contact workouts.
Illinois power forward Leron Black (knee) has been cleared for full contact drills, John Groce told @CBSSports.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) June 28, 2016
Illinois' Mike Thorne (meniscus) has been cleared for non-contact work, John Groce told @CBSSports. Return to full-contact later in summer.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) June 28, 2016
Black suffered multiple setbacks after a meniscus tear last October, limiting him to only 7 appearances as a result. Although Black's absence clearly hurt the Fighting Illini last season, he was able to redshirt and retain that year of eligibility going forward.
Mike Thorne Jr. also had some complications after surgery on his meniscus. The 6-foot-11 big man was granted a medical hardship waiver by the NCAA, allowing him to return to Champaign for a sixth year of eligibility. Thorne, a former graduate transfer from Charlotte, played in a 8 games a year ago while averaging 12.9 points and 8.5 rebounds.
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"The game is simpler than you think when you're out there," Abrams said. "As players, we over-think and over-analyze. Sitting on the bench was the hardest part. I wanted to be out there and go to war with them. I have to remember that feeling and find a way to use it in my game."
It's been a whirlwind year for Fighting Illini football fans, but what about the players? After burning through three head coaches in 12 months, it appears a sense of normalcy is finally returning to Champaign.
On Wednesday, Illinois started to build a relationship with another downstate prospect who just celebrated his eighth-grade graduation as Peoria guard Adam Miller made his first college visit. Miller plays for the Mac Irvin Fire AAU program and will likely play varsity for Peoria Manual next season, a team that took third place in Class 3A last season led by Illini 2017 commit Da'Monte Williams