Well, I can't say I saw this coming. Well, maybe I kind of did. I knew he was out of Champaign-Urbana, one way or another.
University of Illinois Fighting Illini freshman guard/forward Jereme Richmond (Waukegan,
Ill./Waukegan H.S.) announced today he's declaring for the 2011 NBA
Draft and will not return to school next year. Richmond is currently
working out in Chicago and has not stated whether or not he will sign
with an agent. If he signs with an agent, he cannot play college basketball
again. If he's just testing the waters, and doesn't sign with an agent,
he can later withdraw his name and look to play elsewhere.
But you see his tweet today- "Thanks to my haters and motivators. If I
so happen to fail, I want my doubters to know that my failure is
greater than your biggest success," and you consider his egregious
behavior patterns these last couple years, and it makes you think who
would take him into their program?
Iowa State perhaps? Fred Hoiberg since Big Ten players; in a manner that makes Ames, Iowa "the island of misfit toys for Big Ten ballers."has taken in released from their scholarship, malcontent
Don't let Richmond's decision/declaration fool you- his NBA Draft stock
is non-existent. He hasn't proven anything in one year; and his
well-deserved reputation as a severe head case will certainly not help
to impress NBA scouts.
In his favor, a lot of great NBA prospects who would normally declare for the draft are instead returning to school: Ohio State Buckeyes Jared Sullinger is coming back, And Duke's Kyrie Irving, as well as the North Carolina trio of Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller are undecided. (And likely leaning towards returning)
That's because the chances of a NBA season lockout are 9.5/10 right
now, and summer league (at least) will be canceled at this point. Maybe
enough prospects will stay in to the point that Richmond becomes an
He had a decent but not great rookie year, earning Big Ten
All-Freshman Team honors after averaging 7.6 points and 5.0 rebounds in
31 games for the Illini during the 2010-11 season. He shot 52.8 percent
from the field and ranked third in the Big Ten in field goal shooting
during conference play at 60.4 percent. Richmond scored in double
figures 10 times, led by a career-high 18 points on 9-of-12 shooting
against Ohio State on Jan. 22. The team's third-leading rebounder on the
season, Richmond led the Illini in rebounding in six games, highlighted
by a career-best 12 boards versus UIC on Dec. 18. (That game was a
depressing train wreck for the Illini, but still he played well)
"Jereme is an extremely talented player who helped us at nearly every
position," Weber said. "His versatility and ability to impact the game
in a number of different areas are skills that will help him greatly as
he pursues his dream of playing professional basketball. We wish Jereme
the best and thank him for all he has meant to the Illinois basketball
program, from the time he committed as a high school freshman through
his contributions this past season."
So why is Richmond leaving? Well, he was suspended for the NCAA Tournament, the time he was needed most, and he left the team for a few days in mid-season to deal with own personal issues; and his absence hurt the Illini in a crucial road game at the Wisconsin Badgers.
I've heard the off-the-record stories about what Richmond did to
alienate himself from his teammates and why he was such a problem child
in the program. But what's the point in even bringing that up now? We
all know from his record in high school that his behavior history has
made him a giant headache who seriously has severe issues with authority
and a solipsistic sense of entitlement- you don't need any more stories
of his rule-breaking to further confirm your negative impression of
Because if you're an Illini fan, I'm sure that impression is plenty negative already.
I will say this though- his signing is an absolute bust for the program.
The first McDonald's All-American signed by the Illini in quite some
time, he was nothing short of a giant disappointment. His one-and-done
college career looks pretty pathetic when you stack it up against what
was expected of him.
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