UVA commit Leon Bond: Lockdown D, with bounce
Leon Bond got his first recruiting letter from UVA when he was a sophomore, back when his recruiting profile was still under the radar.
When the 6’5” small forward from Milwaukee started blowing up recruiting-wise this past season, he remembered who had reached out to him first.
“They were there to watch Patrick Baldwin, and they sent me a letter like a week after, and as the recruiting was going slow and everything, I would still get letters from Virginia. It made me realize, if Virginia thinks I’m good enough, if Coach Bennett thinks I’m good enough, then I think I’m good enough, you know what I mean?” said Bond, who committed to UVA’s Class of 2022 last month.
The athletic Bond draws comparisons to De’Andre Hunter, another under-the-radar guy who redshirted his first year at Virginia, then by Year 3 was the fourth pick in the NBA Draft.
Bond’s offensive game still needs work – his outside shot, in particular. He gets most of his points in the post and off dribble penetration, with a bounce to his game that allows him to play bigger than his size.
Defensively, his seven-foot wingspan along with that bounce makes him a future lockdown guy.
“The De’Andre Hunter comparison, I mean, that’s so cool, hearing that. It really is, it’s so cool. I see myself as like an elite defender, and that’s why I think I get the comparison a little bit. Like, just being able to guard the best player every night, you know what I mean?” Bond said. “No matter what, like one through four, I can guard a position and just best player on the floor, I’ll lock them down. Coach Bennett and I talked about it, that’s what he sees me in four years, like, I’m going to be an elite defender, you know what I mean? Like, lock down the best player on the floor every night, one through four.”
Bond’s ascent on the recruiting trail had him pegged as a top priority for new Marquette coach Shaka Smart, who put on a Havoc-style full-court press to convince Bond to stay home.
And this was before Bond had a formal offer from Virginia.
The lack of an offer didn’t stop Bond from scheduling a recruiting visit, from which he came away knowing where he wanted to matriculate.
“I fell in love with the city, Charlottesville, a college town, you know, and it was it was so cool just seeing a college town,” Bond said. “And then I got to see really the dynasty that Virginia has built, and then I got to hear about how the tickets, if you want tickets, there’s a waiting list for, like, a while. And I was like, That’s crazy, like, that’s insane. But then just seeing the facilities, and every person there was so passionate about what they do. It just really got to me, you know?”
Bond is already working on trying to add good pounds to his lithe 180-pound frame. In terms of his game, he’s working on his handle and on shooting the three ball.
“I’ve been working on that a lot, just grinding it out, because the next level is only going to get harder. I’m going to need that for the next level,” Bond said. “I think it’s more or less the confidence level, for a while the confidence level wasn’t there, so I wasn’t really taking shots that I knew – like, I knew I could have been taking threes, you know, it was just the confidence level there and all that.”
His AAU team runs a lot of the same action that Virginia uses offensively – flare screens, down screens, pindowns, “so I think I have a little advantage already playing it,” Bond said.
“We’re working on quicker shots, and we’re not going to take away the post aspect, even though I’ll be a smaller post player, just because Coach Benett thinks my post abilities are very good, so why lose them if you can do something with it?” Bond said.
On the defensive end, it’s not so much the Pack-Line fundamentals as it is “just being locked in the whole game playing defense,” Bond said.
“A lot of times you can take breaks on defense, like you can be locked into three possessions and then the next two, you’re out of it. So, just being 100 percent locked in the whole game locked in and just playing that defense,” Bond said.
Story by Chris Graham