Blazers Select Illinois C Meyers Leonard With 11th Pick In 2012 NBA Draft

With the eleventh pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the Portland Trail Blazers selected Illinois center Meyers Leonard.

Blazersedge Write-Up on Meyers Leonard

Leonard, 20, averaged 13.6 points (58.4% FG), 8.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.88 blocks per game his sophomore season, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors while leading the conference in blocked shots and placing third in rebounds per game.

Click through for a transcript of Leonard's 2012 NBA Draft night post-selection interview.

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

Q. If you can start with opening comments about being drafted by the Blazers.

MEYERS LEONARD: It's just an unbelievable feeling, first of all, to be considered one of the top prospects in this year's Draft. They have got a great organization, a good staff, and I'm just going to come every single day and work as hard as possible.

Q. The center position is kind of a void in Portland, talk about how much you are looking forward to being in that starting lineup opening night?

MEYERS LEONARD: Like I said, I'm going to come in and be a sponge and work as hard as possible. Obviously with Portland they have LaMarcus at the 4 and I'm going to have to come in and prove myself first and foremost. But knowing that I have an opportunity in front of me to quite possibly start or just even be a factor in games my first year, it's a great feeling. But at the same time, like I said, it's going to take a lot of hard work and dedication and learning of a new game. Just see where it takes me.

Q. What do you know about Damian Lillard so far, and did you get to speak with him at all during the draft process?

MEYERS LEONARD: Not a lot; kind of "hey, what's up" and on my way.

Obviously he's a very good guard, able to create and score the ball, as well. Coming in, I feel like we have a pretty good group of guys, with our young talent, that is. They are kind of in rebuilding mode right now but I believe that we'll have a chance to compete, and I know from my perspective, I'm going to come out and work as hard as I can and give it my all every single time I'm on the court.

Q. What were the expectations coming into the night, and did any team tell that if you're here, at a certain pick, they would take you.

MEYERS LEONARD: I didn't have any guarantees. Just had my fingers crossed coming in. It's a very exciting time for me and couldn't be happier than to be picked by the Trail Blazers. Like I said, just going to work as hard as possible and try to prove myself.

Q. How much do you know about the City of Portland?

MEYERS LEONARD: I haven't really been able to explore the city a lot. I had dinner there and it was actually good. And then of course I worked out. I have heard from numerous people that it is a very nice city to live in. I know it rains a lot. But other than that, I can't really say that I have much of a feel for the city in itself.

Q. Talk about the tragedy that you went through with your parents and everything and how that's really propelled you and inspired you to be the best person you can be.

MEYERS LEONARD: At six years old, I lost my dad. Obviously a pretty tough time for my family and I. Grew up with my mom and my brother and I, and not a lot of money sometimes. Some hardship. It was tough but it also made me grow into a young man at an earlier age, stepping in and being somewhat of a caretaker throughout my early years of my life and now especially being able to take care of my mom and my family. It definitely put a good head on my shoulders and just always really willed me to work as hard as possible and have a lot of self‑dedication and desire to make it in life.

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

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