Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 12/29/11
ST. FRANCIS Plenty of people were raving about Jon Leuer after his 14-point, eight-rebound performance Tuesday night in the Bucks' 98-95 victory over Minnesota. His teammates were impressed. His coach was impressed.Even one of the Timberwolves was impressed. Kevin Love had seen Leuer in action before, when he was participating in workouts with Team USA prior to his senior year at Wisconsin."He's a legit 6-10 and can shoot the ball," said Love. "He's going to be a good player in this league."That's quite the compliment and it wasn't lost on Leuer, a 6-foot-10 forward from the University of Wisconsin who spent part of his home debut trying to stop Love, who finished with 31 points and 20 rebounds."He's one of the best power forwards in the game," Leuer said. "That's a compliment. It was a challenge, definitely."From his first day with the team, Leuer has stood out in practice. Skiles has been impressed by his work ethic and and basketball IQ, something he attributes to Leuer's four years playing under Bo Ryan at Wisconsin.He was the Badgers' leading scorer and rebounder during his junior and senior seasons and landed a spot on the All-Big Ten media second team. His game was perfectly suited to Ryan's swing offense, and so far, the transition to the professional game has appeared flawless."He's a smart player," Skiles said. "He's got good defensive instincts. Obviously playing where he did in college, he's been well-coached."Prior to the draft, Leuer worked out for a number of different teams but it was the Bucks who picked him with the 40th overall selection. The team liked his versatility, his ability to play in the paint and on the perimeter. They liked his length, approach on defense and his athleticism. And they really liked his ability to shoot. In college, Leuer shot 48.2 percent from the field, 36.8 percent from beyond the arc and was a 72.3 percent free throw shooter."We picked Jon for a reason," head coach Scott Skiles said. Leuer's game improved with a short stint playing professional ball in Germany during the summer. He appeared in 10 games with Skyliners Frankfurt, averaging 14.8 points and 7.8 rebounds while shooting 49.5 percent from the floor. The time overseas helped him hone his skills and prepare himself for life in the NBA but it also helped him get into game shape, which could be an advantage for him early as many league players continue to shake off the rust collected during a 149-day lockout."It was good work over there in Germany that I got in, and I think it helped me out," Leuer said.His contract in Germany contained an opt-out clause, allowing him to return to the United States when the lockout ended. He was present for the start of camp but couldn't participate in team activities until receiving clearance from FIBA, international basketball's governing body.Once able to work, though, Leuer made the most of his opportunity. He scored 18 points on 6 of 11 shooting, playing 21 minutes in the Bucks' first exhibition contest Dec. 17 at Minnesota. In the second exhibition, also against the Timberwolves, Leuer scored four points in nine minutes and missed an open look at the end that would have given Milwaukee the victory.He played just two minutes in the season opener before breaking out Tuesday against Minnesota. That performance earned him further consideration, but he has to make the most of the opportunity before he becomes a regular fixture in the rotation."Jon obviously earned himself another look," Skiles said. "But he's got to go in there and produce again."Leuer shared the court at times Tuesday with center Andrew Bogut, making for an interesting combination of size and length. With Bogut manning the lane, Leuer was free to move around at will and take advantage of mismatches to find the right shot.Without a true backup center on the roster, though, expect Leuer to see plenty of time backing up Bogut, as he did Tuesday when Bogut fouled out with two minutes to play.Count Bogut as one of those already impressed with the rookie."It's good to have not only a rookie, but a center who can back me up and we don't lose too much," Bogut said. "He shoots the ball very well, he's very efficient offensively. Defensively, he's always in the right spots."Leuer made his Milwaukee debut with 6:14 left in the first quarter, receiving a friendly ovation from the crowd of 17,352. The applause grew with each basket and rebound as the night went on.Thats the Badger love I guess, a little bit, said a smiling Leuer of the audible cheers for him throughout the arena Tuesday. They were great fans for me my four years at Wisconsin and Im glad I get to keep playing for them.Right now, those fans are awfully glad Leuer is playing for them, too.
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