NBA lockout sends Leuer back to school

While the future of the NBA remains uncertain, former Badger Jon Leuer is working with a strength coach while he completes the final six credits to earn his degree.

MILWAUKEE - It's not the way that Jon Leuer envisioned spending the first few months of his NBA career, but with the lockout in effect, the former Badgers star and Bucks second-round pick is back in the classroom finishing up his degree.

He's in the gym, as well, but it's not in Las Vegas with new teammates playing in the NBA Summer League as he hoped.

After four successful seasons at the University of Wisconsin, Leuer was selected with the No. 40 pick in the NBA draft by Milwaukee. One week later, he was unable to have any contact with the organization that helped make his basketball dreams come true.

"It sucks, but at the same time it's just a minor setback," Leuer said. "That's the way I look at it. The league is not going to not start back up again. It's only a matter of time. But obviously you'd like to have it be normal and get right into summer league and start working out with your new teammates and coaches.

"If it's a couple months: great. If it's half the season, that's disappointing. But at the same time, you know eventually it's going to start back up. It's inevitable the league will come back and I'll have my chance."

The lockout also prevented Leuer from signing his first NBA contract. In recent years, the Bucks have signed second-round picks like Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Jodie Meeks the first week of July, but that can't happen this offseason.

Through conversations with his agent, Leuer prepared himself for the July 1 lockout. He is currently in Madison working with a strength coach while he completes the final six credits to earn his Bachelor's degree in history.

Later in the summer, the nearly 7-foot forward will train in his home state of Minnesota before heading to Chicago to work alongside several other NBA players who are all with the same agency.

During the one week that Leuer had to work out at the Bucks training center between the draft and the lockout, the team's coaching staff was working on a lot of pick-and-pop plays with him. While the coaches didn't give the 22-year-old anything specifically to focus on throughout the rest of the summer, Leuer will be working on all aspects of his game.

"I'm trying to be a complete, all-around player, so there's a lot of different things I want to work on" Leuer said. "I definitely want to get stronger, too. That's a big part of it. I'm going to be in the weight room a lot and try to get more explosive, more athletic. On-the-court stuff; shooting, ball-handling, post-up game, try to add a couple moves, a couple counter-moves, get comfortable with foot work and fine-tune the stuff that I already do well."

Leuer described himself as a "stretch-4, a big that can shoot it." He compared his game to Ryan Anderson of the Orlando Magic, but has his sights set on one of the game's elite players.

"A guy who I love to watch and who I would aspire to would be Dirk (Nowitzki)," Leuer said. "At his size, what he can do with putting the ball on the floor and making plays for guys, face-up guys; he just does so many things. He's a guy that I would definitely like to model my game after."

When the lockout ends, Leuer just wants to be ready to prove himself.

"I feel like I can bring a lot to the table," he said. "I feel like if I continue to do the things that I've been doing, there's no reason why I can't succeed in the NBA."

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