Jereme Richmond at Peace with Illini Experience at NBA Draft Combine

jereme-richmond

Jereme Richmond, the first McDonald's All-American to sign with the Fighting Illini since Dee Brown in 2002, did not have a storybook college basketball career. He's now one-and-done, but it's not the kind of typical one-and-done you may be used to.

Given all that's happened to Richmond in Champaign it may surprise you to learn that his relationship with Illinois coach Bruce Weber is actually warm and fuzzy.

Bruce Weber visited Richmond at the NBA combine, and the two smiled at each other. Then they shared a big hug.

"He takes his job very seriously, but he takes being a great person even more seriously," Richmond said.

"Coach Weber and I are going to be friends for a long time."

But what about Illini nation at large?

Richmond got into fisticuffs with a teammate at the Big Ten Tournament, left the team during a midseason stretch (and missed the crucial road contest at the Wisconsin Badgers) and was suspended for the Illini NCAA Tournament games.

With that baggage in tow, don't expect many Illini fans to exclaim
"my guy" (or similar phrases of vicarious joy) when Richmond hears his
name called on NBA Draft night. Quite a few will make those remarks for Demetri McCamey, but not probably

So does he have any regrets about his time at Illinois?

"I don't have any regrets per say, I just wish that the relationship
between the fans and myself could have been a little bit more
supportive," Richmond said. "But hopefully down the line I'll have the
chance to get back to Champaign and mend some fences."

On combine day one he met with the L.A. Clippers, (including former Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro and he's had 5 interviews: Cavaliers, Celtics, Hawks, and Bobcats. On combine day two he had four more meetings scheduled. He also has workouts scheduled with the Timberwolves, Heat, Spurs, Trail Blazers and Nets. Richmond hired an agent named Aaron Goodwin.

So where could he end up being picked?

"I don't really know where teams are going to shake out and how
things are going to fall," Richmond said. "Sometimes teams pick up
based on what they need. I bring a lot of versatility. The league needs
some versatile guys."

And when teams ask Richmond about his potential baggage? About the potential off-the-court issues?

"The only thing you can do is be honest," Richmond said. "Nine times
out of 10 they already know the answer anyway. They want to see if
you're going to be straight forward and if you're going to own up to
your mistakes and things like that."

Richmond is obviously very young, leaving school after just one year.
So he will have some parental supervision once he arrives in "the
league."

"My parents will be with me on the road, they won't probably live in
the same house, but they'll be close to make sure I'm staying focused,"
he said.

"Because when you get money it's easy to get complacent, but my parents are going to be there to support me along the way."

Very true. "Mo Money, Mo Problems" was such a popular hit song
because of its universal message. And Richmond doesn't think he made the
wrong choice, even though almost every draft expert thought he'd stay
in school another year- at least.

"A lot of people questioned my decision to make the leap but I feel
I've grown a lot as a player and as a person, being around a
professional atmosphere, I'm going to have a chance to bring those
skills that I've picked up along the way."

And he's very confident about his prospects on June 23rd. But he also knows he has some work to do.

"I think my game is going to translate very well, getting out on the
break, finishing in transition. Guarding ones, twos threes. I still 
have a lot of things to clean up about my game as far as shooting and
ball handling."

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net. He's also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank and Facebook

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    Paul M. Banks

    Fulbright scholar in media studies, MBA, small media business owner, Published author, Founder of The Sports Bank.net, a Fox Sports affiliate Member: Society of Professional Journalists, Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association. Former political writer for Washington Times.com, NBC Chicago.com and numerous business journals Credentialed for: United Nations, Rose Bowl, BCS National Championship, Final Four, Stanley Cup Finals, and NBA Playoffs. Been featured on: Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports Live, The History Channel, CBS and ESPN radio. Does weekly segments for NBC and Fox Sports Radio stations across the nation.

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