Illinois basketball player Leron Black pleaded not guilty Friday to an aggravated assault charge filed after police said he threatened a bouncer at a campus bar with a knife.
The 20-year-old sophomore entered his plea by video monitor from the Champaign County Jail, a spokeswoman for the county clerk’s office said. Black’s bond was set at $5,000.
Witnesses said bouncers at the Canopy Club in Urbana were trying to get people to leave the bar after a fight when Black threatened one of the bouncers with a folding knife, University of Illinois police spokesman Patrick Wade and State’s Attorney Julia Rietz said. Black was walking away from the scene when police stopped him, Wade said.
It wasn’t clear how many people were involved in the fight, but Black’s arrest at 12:25am was the only one stemming from the incident, Wade said.
Black’s attorney, Mark Lipton of Champaign, did not return a call seeking comment and no telephone numbers for Black’s parents could be located to seek their comment. Black is from Memphis, Tennessee.
In a brief emailed statement, Illinois basketball coach John Groce said Black has been indefinitely suspended from the team while the legal process plays out.
Aggravated assault is a fourth-class felony that, if Black is convicted,would be punishable by up to three years in prison but also potentially eligible for probation, Rietz said.
”He has no prior criminal offenses, so he could be eligible for diversion programs,” Rietz said.
Black was a projected starter for the Illini but has missed all but seven games with an injury.