July 29, 2010
Leuer at USA Basketball Photo Gallery
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin senior Jon Leuer has been busy this month, taking classes, working out with his teammates and participating in some of the most prestigious events of the summer college basketball season.
UWBadgers.com tracked down the budding star as he took a breather between playing with USA Basketball in Las Vegas and heading out to San Diego to participate in the exclusive LeBron James Camp.
UWBadgers.com: So tell us about the Las Vegas experience and playing with USA Basketball...
Leuer: "It was really cool. I had a great time hanging out with the other college players that were on my team and getting know some of the pros that were trying out for the U.S. National Team that is heading to Turkey for the FIBA World Championships. It was great basketball and fun for me to see how I could compete with some of the best players in the game."
UWBadgers.com: What was the schedule like out there?
Leuer: "We'd wake up and have breakfast with all the pro guys who were out there. We actually spent a lot of time together with the NBA players, which was cool. We'd go to UNLV in the morning and have practice with the other college guys for about an hour and then we'd go over and practice and scrimmage with the pro guys for an hour and a half or two hours. That was pretty much the schedule for each day we were out there."
UWBadgers.com: Did you have live action against the U.S. Olympic team or mostly just practice?
Leuer: "Yeah, we'd scrimmage against the pros every day. We'd usually have 10 or 20-minute scrimmages and we'd have three or four of them every day, so there were a lot of chances to measure up and play in a game-type setting."
UWBadgers.com: Alright, so you mentioned measuring up, how'd you do?
Leuer: "I really thought I played pretty well. Being able to go up against that caliber of player and then realizing that you can hold your own gives me a lot of confidence moving forward."
UWBadgers.com: Give us some of the names of guys you guarded or guard you?
Leuer: "The four guys that I was pretty much always matched up with were Kevin Durant, Lamar Odom, Brook Lopez and Tyson Chandler.
Kevin Durant is just an unbelievable player. I would say he was by far the best player there, and that's saying a lot because the gym was full of great basketball players. But he was in a league of his own. Anytime we played against him, it seemed like he was scoring a lot."
UWBadgers.com: He was scoring a lot even when you guarded him?
Leuer: "Ha ha, yeah some. But to be honest, we held our own - the college team against the pros, I mean. We'd beat them in one scrimmage and then stay within a few points of them in the other games each day. It was fun."
UWBadgers.com: Even though it was just a practice jersey and warm-up, it had to be a thrill to put on that USA jersey for the first time, huh?
Leuer: "Yeah, definitely. It felt great. I remember pulling it on for the first time and thinking, `OK, this is pretty cool.' Even though we weren't going up against other countries or heading to Turkey for the FIBA Championships like the pro guys, it was still a cool experience to have USA on your chest and know that you're representing your country."
UWBadgers.com: How old were you when the Dream Team won gold in the 1992 Olympics?
Leuer: "Ha ha, I was about three years old. So I don't really remember much about that, but obviously I've heard all about that team and know how important that was for USA basketball."
UWBadgers.com: The Badgers' third game of the season is at UNLV. Did you get to practice in their arena, the Thomas & Mack Center, and take notes?
Leuer: "Yeah, I think I have the shooting background down a little bit better than I did when I first walked in. We didn't spend a whole lot of time in the Thomas & Mack Center, because we trained in Cox Pavilion most of the time. But, even a little time in the arena can't hurt. It'll be helpful to have shot around in there and feel comfortable."
UWBadgers.com: Did you have bragging rights with the two Duke players that were on your team in Vegas - Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith?
Leuer: "Ha ha, yeah a little. It came up when we were eating dinner or just hanging out. But it was cool to just hang around all the guys on the team. Everybody out there is a good guy and fun to be around. We also definitely had some talk about who has the best conference and who has the best team. That kind of stuff made it a really fun experience."
UWBadgers.com: The Duke guys could probably just polish their national championship rings if you ever brought up the win. But you had a few other Big Ten guys out there to help you brag up the conference right?
Leuer: "Yeah the Duke guys definitely have the ultimate bragging right with the national championship. But yeah, we had five Big Ten guys out there altogether.
The Big Ten Network was there too, filming us to do an episode of The Journey about us out there. They were always trying to stir up debate about which conference is best. One of the days we were out there the Big Ten Network made me, JaJuan Johnson and John Shurna walk the Las Vegas strip just so they could film us looking around."
UWBadgers.com: So tell us what your next big event is, heading out to San Diego?
Leuer: "I'm heading to San Diego on Thursday for the LeBron James King's Academy on UC-San Diego's campus. They invite about 15 college guys out here to work out and be involved with the camp. We work out twice a day with retired pro players and then apparently we'll be playing in games at night, too. I'm not sure if LeBron will be playing with us or not, but I heard he was, so that would be cool.
Then I guess we'll be working with youth basketball players from age 7 to 17 during the day also. I'm not entirely sure what the schedule is, but we're supposed to have a meeting Thursday night to go over everything."
UWBadgers.com: Rob Wilson will be so jealous if you get to play with LeBron. Do us a favor and dunk on him, will ya? So after the LeBron camp, do you have anything else scheduled before the fall semester starts?
Leuer: "Well, there might be something else in the works, but I'm not sure how much I can say about it yet. Check UWBadgers.com next week and maybe you'll see something."
UWBadgers.com: If there's news, we'll have it covered. Thanks Jon... good luck in San Diego.
Leuer: "Thanks a lot. I'll tell you all about it."