Former Illinois center and NBA veteran Meyers Leonard is making a sizable donation to his alma mater.

Monday, Illinois announced that Leonard and his wife, Elle, have made a $500,000 donation to the basketball program. It will be dedicated to the Ubben Basketball Complex renovation and expansion project.

“The University of Illinois has meant so much to Elle and I. As a young basketball player from small town Illinois, going to the University of Illinois was the mecca for me,” Leonard said in a statement. “The older I get, the more you want to give back of your time, your knowledge and your resources. It’s been on my heart to make more of an impact. Elle and I agreed it was time to give back financially to the men’s basketball team. I’ve been waiting for this moment for quite some time.”

Illinois’ release detailed the Ubben Basketball Complex project:

The Ubben renovation and expansion will add approximately 40,000 square feet to the existing structure, while remodeling large portions of the original building. New coaches’ offices and entry lobby are included in the project. Two new half courts will be added to both the women’s and men’s gym spaces, giving the programs additional space to work on player development. The project will feature a strength and conditioning addition, player recovery spaces, and a state-of-the-art sports medicine facility, and will significantly increase the size of the locker rooms and players’ lounges. The new construction broke ground in January of 2021 with completion scheduled for the beginning of the 2022 basketball season.

“There is no greater compliment a program can receive than when one of its former players elects to give back,” said head coach Brad Underwood. “In visiting with Meyers over the years, I’ve heard first-hand how much his Illinois experience changed his life. From a young kid in Robinson who had the goal of one day playing for the Fighting Illini, to then have that opportunity and make the most of it in becoming an NBA player, he has lived his dream. His Illini pride has remained steadfast all these years, and now he is committed to paying it forward.  We are grateful to Meyers, and his wife Elle, a proud U of I alum as well, for their support of Fighting Illini Basketball. The loyalty of former players is part of what makes Illinois such a special place.”

Leonard played at Illinois from 2010-12 before heading to the NBA. He’s a nine-year veteran of the league, playing with the Portland Trail Blazers and Miami Heat.