When the season ended and he said he was turning pro, Leonard was believed to be a late-first-rounder at best. Now, just one day away from the draft, some projections have him going as high as the lottery.
Though he made big strides as a player, however, Leonard, 20, sometimes was criticized for petulant behavior on the floor. Even his coach at Illinois, Bruce Weber, called him immature.
After a workout at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine that lasted about 30 minutes, Leonard addressed those claims.
"I worked on it - being able to channel my emotions and frustrations when things were going on around me," Leonard said. "Missing a shot, things like that. It's been taking it down to a very respectable level. The thing wasn't that I was too immature or overly emotional. It was that I cared a lot in my mind. I'm a competitor and I hate to lose. If something goes wrong, I'm not going to be a dud about it."
Sixers president and general manager Rod Thorn had high praise for Leonard.
"He's very large, number one. And he's very athletic. And he can shoot, so that's a third thing. He is a kid that is very young, with his best playing days ahead of him. He's very talented," Thorn said.
The Sixers have the 15th, 45th, and 54th picks in Thursday's draft.
Contact John N. Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JmitchInquirer. Read his "Deep Sixer" blog at philly.com.