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Leron Black plans to forgo final year of eligibility

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The redshirt-junior will attempt to turn pro.

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

It does not seem like Leron Black will be returning to Champaign for his fourth season of college basketball in 2018.

Originally committed to Baylor, Black ended up signing with John Groce and Illinois in 2013. He was a four-star recruit out of White Station High School in Memphis.

Black has played at least 31 games in three seasons at Illinois. He was limited to seven total games during his sophomore campaign in 2015-16 due to meniscus surgery on his right knee, but he received a medical hardship waiver to add an extra season.

Black really had a coming-out party this past season when he nearly doubled his scoring average (8.1 PPG to 15.3 PPG) from last year. He became a critical part of Brad Underwood’s offense in the head coach’s first year in Champaign, and he kept the Illini in many conference games. Black also averaged over five rebounds per game this season.

An All-Big Ten honorable mention, we dove into Black’s importance for Illinois’ offense a few weeks ago when we called him the Big Ten’s most underrated player.

A player who had really been an amazing story to follow over the past few years and a great mentor to younger Illini like Kipper Nichols and Greg Eboigbodin, it’s a shame to see him leave without completing his four years at Illinois. But, with the opportunity to make money professionally and a degree already in his back pocket, it’s tough to blame Black for chasing that dream after giving Illinois everything in the tank for four-plus years.

The intent of freshman guard Mark Smith to transfer was announced Monday afternoon.

Keep following The Champaign Room for more information on Black’s transfer and the future of Illinois basketball.