As a 12 year old kid 22 year old Jon Leuer might have had sweet dreams of going head to head against his idol Kevin Garnett one day, but after a stellar career at Wisconsin there was no question that he would be playing somewhere in the world as a professional and after playing against top Beko BBL players Derrick Allen, Predrag Suput, Jan Jagla or Dane Watts recently, he now has played against Boris Diaw, Andrew Bogut and Andray Blatche in a matter of weeks and he soon might be rubbing his eyes when he sees Boston Celtic Kevin Garnett running on the same floor as the Minnesota native in an NBA game. For the 208cm power forward who was drafted in the second round at #40 of the 2011 NBA draft, his dream of reaching the NBA has come true even if it was delayed a bit by the NBA lockout. Leuer brings the Ferris Buellar look similarity and cleverness to the NBA. For 80s movie freaks, the movie Ferris Bueller is a classic where Matthew Broderick fools his family and school principle that he is sick and needs to stay home from school, but instead takes his two friends to Chicago to enjoy the day school free. Bueller is so clever that he makes up his bed as if his body is there and rigs the answering machine with a recording that he is there and installs snoring sounds. Visually, Leuer has a similarity to Ferris Buellar even if he can´t recollect ever having heard it . “I never heard that resemblance before, but Ferris Bueller is a cool dude so I am all right with it”, added Jon Leuer. Ferris Bueller had the talent to trick his family and school principle in thinking he was too sick to go to school which would be equivalent if ex Skyliner Leuer used his canniness to set back the office clock of ex head coach Muli Katzurin, getting the BCM practice court flooded or making a call so the practice basketballs had to be secretly taken, because TV Langen needed them for their practice just so the Fraport Skyliners would have to cancel practice. Of course, Leuer would never have a mischievous thought like this simply because he wants to play basketball and is too focused on the court and always has that all business demeanor. Leuer uses that sharpness not to the disadvantage of canceling a team practice, but to the advantage of helping his team win on the court displaying his great team mentality and defensive smartness and knowing how to score (and to gain fouls) in the low post and with his hot outside shooting. Leuer may seem like the quiet guy at first glance, but his hard focus is deceiving. “I lived with Jon for 3 years at Wisconsin. He is a laid back guy but when it comes to competing in an activity, he’s one of the most competitive guys out there. He can be vocal with his teammates and let them know what needs to be done in order to get the win.”, stressed ex Wisconsin Badger Tim Jarmusz. Even If Leuer has never heard the Ferris Bueller look comparisons, his ex Wisconsin teammate Keaton Nankivil wasn´t perplexed when asked about the Ferris Bueller comparison. “Jon has some resemblance to Ferris Bueller, but his character also fits to him”, stressed ratiopharm Ulm player Keaton Nankivil. The nickname Ferris Bueller might have slipped the mind of his ex teammate at Wisconsin Tim Jarmusz since so many funny names were being knocked around. “He is not too much like Ferris but I like the nickname none the less. We had millions of nicknames for everyone on our team. One that fit Jon well was “Jonny I wanna score more” from the kids movie Little Giants we all watched growing up. He has also been a guy who can fill up the score box”, stressed Tim Jarmusz.
Leuer was born on May 14, 1989 and grew up in Long Lake, Minnesota. In a state, that is known for an abundance of 11, 842 lakes like Ohio has talented basketball players,or Argentina has many small Maradona clones running around, it was no surprise that he spent some time around water while growing up, but was he more in or on the water? “A little bit of both. I would go out on the boat and also be in the water tubing which is like water skiing, but you are being pulled by the boat while being on a tube”, added Jon Leuer. His favorite player as a kid was Kevin Garnett who was displaying his basketball craft for the Minnesota Timberwolves. “His versatility always impressed me. He could do so many things to help his team win. He always worked his tail off no matter what and was so competitive. In high school, the American was a point guard and developed very smooth ball handling skills, court vision and his slick shot release. Before he graduated, he grew 19cm which moved him from being a guard to a forward.
Leuer then went to Wisconson where he played NCAA ball from 2007-2011. Often it can be a dream of a player to play in his home state, but Leuer chose neighboring state Wisconsin. “I felt that Wisconsin was a great program. I liked the coaches and players and never regretted making that decision. At Wisconsin, he played a total of 123 NCAA games and scored in double figures his last two seasons. As a senior, he played 34 games: 18.3ppg, 7.2rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 47.0%, 3PT: 37.0%, FT: 84.3%. At Wisconsin, he played together with ratiopharm Ulm forward Keaton Nankivil and BiG Oettinger Rockets Gotha (Germany-ProB) shooting guard Tim Jarmusz. At Wisconsin, he led the Badgers to winning the Big Ten Regular Season and tournament in 2008. He also helped the school reach the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2008 and 2011 and was a All-Big Ten 1st Team nomination in 2011. His favorite memory from the 2008 NCAA Sweet 16 run was beating Kansas State. Jarmusz saw Leuer do many amazing things in the NCAA and has fond memories. “The most amazing thing Jon did at Wisconsin was pass the ball to me to make the shots, just kidding. But he had some nifty spin moves on opponents before he gave them a facial on the rim. He caught a lot of guys by surprise when he took off and that was always fun to watch”, stressed Tim Jarmasz. As a freshman at Wisconsin, he played 32 games averaging 2,9ppg and 1,3apg, but was able to improve his points and rebounds average each season. He had a brilliant teacher with Bo Ryan who helped develop the American from a young player into a mature player with NBA potential. “Bo Ryan taught him the value of taking care of the ball and being strong down low in the post. Jon has become a great finisher around the rim after playing four years at Wisconsin and in the Big Ten”, commented Tim Jarmasz.
After Wisconsin and being drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks last summer, the NBA lockout was announced and the American decided to cross the big pond and take on the challenge of the German Beko BBL with the Fraport Skyliners. During the Lockout, he was able to get a taste of European basketball, keep in shape and see some culture while waiting for the NBA to resume. In preseason, he quickly found his form and as the season started had a bigger role in the scoring, because ex NBA player Jermareo Davidson was injured and later continued as American Justin Gray was out. In ten games with the Fraport Skyliners, he averaged 14,8ppg, 7,8rpg and 1,1apg and he was a power forward that had a handy dangerous inside out game that often had the opponents defense in havoc. Jarmusz remembers how the game of Leuer was already developing rapidly at Wisconsin. “Jons biggest strength is to be able to stretch the floor with his shooting and then take his defender off the dribble when being pressured from his shot”, added Tim Jarmusz. Not only scoring is a big strength of Leuer, but when Davidson returned from his injury, both players harmonized nicely finding each other with extra passes. “His passing doesn´t always get noticed, he is able to find his teammates cutting to the hoop very well when he gets the ball in the post”, expressed Jarmusz. His point guard skills that he added in high school have helped his game also as he can hurt a team in so many ways. “He is one of the most versatile players I have ever seen. He is much taller and longer than he looks. He is also very athletic and coordinated for his size. I think all the ping pong games in college I beat him in taught him about competition and helped with his coordination”, smiled Tim Jarmusz. He also played three Eurocup games averaging 12,0ppg and 4,3rpg and scored 20 points against Gran Canaria. He had some very strong games in the Beko BBL against Bamberg with 17 points and 14 rebounds, against FC Bayern Munich scoring 12 points and hauling down 10 rebounds, but his best game was his last Beko BBL game in Hagen where he dominated netting 27 points and grabbing seven rebounds. He has a beautiful quick release that looks like a cowboy taking his gun out of the holster and firing away which he did in Hagen looking like target practice. “That quick release came from years of practice. I have always loved to shoot since I was a kid. I worked very hard at it. A good shooter needs to have that quick release to be successful”, stressed Jon Leuer. As the lockout ended, Leuer signed with the Milwaukee Bucks which really came as no surprise.
With a very short NBA training camp with the Bucks, Leuer couldn´t afford any bad practices or even a few miscues, since every good practice day was valuable for his chances of making the opening day roster and not being shipped away to the D-league. Leuer has some very stiff competition at his position with Americans Drew Gooden, Larry Sanders and Turk Ersan Ilyasova. In the first game, the American played only one minute, but was aided by the one game suspension to Gooden and had his break out game against the Timberwolves scoring 14 points, getting eight rebounds, dishing out one assists, getting two steals, and two blocks in 20 minutes. Due to his versatility, he can´t be categorized to one type of NBA player, but has been compared to two very different type of players. “It is hard to pick one player he is like. He has a little Dirk in him with his tough shot making and a matchup problem for teams. But also a tougher Lamar Odom, where he’s very versatile and can play multiple positions”, warned Tim Jarmusz. In his third game against the Washington Wizzards, he logged 22 minutes scoring four points and getting five rebounds(3 offensive rebounds), but just didn´t get as involved in the offense as other guys were taking the bulk of the scoring in their own hands. In a 91-86 loss to the Denver Nuggets, he played 14 minutes and held his own scoring 8 points and grabbing two rebounds in 14 minutes. In a 103-100 loss to the Sacremento Kings, he scored seven points, got three rebounds, dished out two assists in 21 minutes. With each new game, it seemed as if Leuer was getting more and more adjusted to the style of Scott Skiles as he was logging more minutes and has been inserted into the starting lineup on occasion. His best game so far was in a 103-92 win against the Detroit Pistons where he scored 15 points, hauled down six rebounds, dished out five assists and had two blocks. After getting toasted by German legend Dirk Nowitzki, the American remained solid with 11 points a piece against the 76ers and Nuggets. The NBA grind can be very tough with injuries and players coming and going that a player could get lost in the shuffle. With a good start into season, he had a three game stint with five minutes, a DNP and three minutes, but then all of a sudden profited from an Andrew Bogut injury and was back in the starting line up giving a 19 point, five rebound performance in 20 minutes in a loss to the Lakers. With the 2011-2012 NBA season shortened, he will be playing less games, but have less rest between games as he will be playing 4-5 games per week. In the last weeks, his playing time has decreased drastically, one never knows if one will get 25 minutes or only three minutes in the NBA, so just being ready is what the Minnesota native has to be. After weeks of not finding double figures in points, he was back in that category getting 14 points, scooping in four rebounds in 20 minutes in a 110-91 loss to the Chicago Bulls. “I like his quiet confidence and his basketball IQ for a rookie”, stressed Milwaukee Bucks head coach Scott Skiles. Leuer is playing with and against the best basketball players on the planet and what better way to develop and improve and he might secretly be marking February 29th on his calendar as that will be the first meeting against the Boston Celtics and his idol Kevin Garnett. He will have had enough time to secretly plot his personal game plan against the 2008 NBA champion the last months the same way Ferris Bueller planned his day off from school.