By Joe Henricksen

A final rant on Richmond

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By Joe Henricksen

Whether or not Jereme Richmond of Waukegan goes down as one of the all-time great players in Illinois state history is not up for debate -- at least not in this blog. This space is not going to be devoted to breaking down Richmond in comparison to recent all-timers Jon Scheyer and Derrick Rose or past legends Jamie Brandon or Isiah Thomas.

What Richmond certainly was and became over the course of his four years of high school was the most scrutinized player in Illinois state history. Yes, I know, he knows, we all know, Richmond brought on a lot of the scrutiny himself. He has acknowledged that. Nonetheless, the scrutiny came in waves, from serious issues that led to disciplinary action to some not-so-serious issues that resembled Ralph Malph's sometimes teen-aged immaturity on Happy Days or the antics of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. No player in history was watched more closely, played more under the microscope, partly because of his stature, partly because of his early commitment and partly because of this new age media (blogs, websites, etc.).

What you will read in this space is all of what Richmond is as a player. The Hoops Report has gotten this impression, maybe a feeling from fans and basketball observers, that Richmond is not held in as high regard as he maybe should. He's constantly picked apart. He should be celebrated, albeit for different reasons, just as others have been showered with praise before him. I've heard all the negatives. Believe me, I've heard them, even watched and witnessed a few myself, but again, this is about what he is as opposed to what he isn't.

We'll start with loyalty. I can't recall how many times fans have asked "Why don't the top players stay at home and play their college ball?" I was just on a Chicago radio show recently where the hosts asked that very same question. Sure, Illinois Fighting Illini fans obsess about it, but so too do others who simply want to continue watching their high school stars play their college ball close to home.

Richmond did just that, committing early, in November of his freshman year. And he stayed committed. There was no drama surrounding his recruitment -- at least from his side or perspective. There was no talk of a soft verbal or de-committing or re-committing or looking around to see what else was out there. He stayed committed, even when during his sophomore year Illinois struggled and plenty of people, including the media, tried planting the seed that it was only time before Richmond de-committed.

So for all you Illini fans and everyday college basketball fans that want their stars to stay close to home, appreciate it. Richmond stayed home. Julian Wright didn't. Sherron Collins didn't. Neither did Jon Scheyer or Derrick Rose or Evan Turner. He will be around and have a second chance to to grab the adoration of fans throughout this state, which he was never quite able to do as a prep star.

There is definitely quite a bit of fact and fiction as it relates to Richmond and his desire, attitude and competitiveness. Again, this is not about what Richmond doesn't do (i.e. run the floor hard all the time, control his on-court emotions, etc.). But just ask Waukegan coach Ron Ashlaw how competitive Richmond is after the intensity Richmond brought to Ashlaw's practices. "He plays so cool sometimes that people don't realize he has a very competitive streak," Ashlaw told the Hoops Report recently. "That cool approach doesn't always translate into something that is visible when it comes to being competitive. I can't tell you how he elevated the intensity and competitiveness of so many of our practices."

What should not be questioned is his talent level. Richmond is different than many of the past stars we've watched come through this state. There are two things that strike you when watching Richmond over and over again during these four years of high school. First, his basketball I.Q. and understanding of the game is at an elite level. He understands and sees parts of the game others just don't. Second, his ability to impact a game in so many different ways is rarely seen this early in a player's career. Typically, different parts of a game come together in stages and it takes time; Richmond's was advanced early on. Those two attributes aren't eye-popping to the average fan, but they make him a complete player and one that makes whatever team he's playing for a better one.

Richmond also has the combination of being polished but still blessed with an enormous upside and untapped potential, both as a player and physically. He is still physically maturing. And with that added physical maturity will come even more explosiveness, along with weight and strength.

His skill level is awfully impressive for a player his size. People will see his ability to put it on the floor, find open players with his passing and vision and knock down mid-range jumpers. But look closely and you'll see a high school player with advanced footwork on the block, something you just don't see at the high school level, and the instincts and feel that put him one step ahead of others. He will not be Kevin Durant as a freshman, but his game has kind of always reminded the Hoops Report of Durantula.

When it comes to Illinois and his impact, we're not talking about a world-beating instant mega-star -- at least not right away. But his presence will be felt immediately, especially if Richmond's mind is in the proper place. He will instantly provide added depth and pure talent, something Illinois desperately needs. He will allow coach Bruce Weber to play different lineups and give opponents different looks. Offensively, Richmond will need to be accounted for by opponents while being able to make others around him better. His length and athleticism will provide a weakside presence defensively, blocking and altering shots while offensively becoming a badly-needed finisher around the rim.

But when considering he is the 2010 Hoops Report Player of the Year, Mr. Basketball Award winner and a McDonald's All-American who led his high school team to second and third-place finishes the last two years, it's still a little surprising Richmond is not more revered. There are many out there who argue against him rather than for him as far as his status, the type of player he is and where he falls in the Illinois high school basketball hierarchy. Erase a little of the past, forget the bumpy road and you'll see the superstar.

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32 Comments

Thanks for this opinion, which is focus on the positive rather than the negative. Great look into what Jereme brings to the table.

If Richmond played for at a CPS or St.Joe's the media would give him more positive reports. Good article. Always hope a Illinois high school kid does good when he goes to a college in the state.

I like your work Joe, but I have a slightly different perspective. Jeremy Richmond is a good player, but is not the caliber player of a Brandon, Rose, Turner, or Collins. He didn't step up either year to lead his team in the money game down state, and came home without a state title. He is too undersized to dominate inside on the D-1 level as you saw in the McDonalds game. His athleticism is average. He wasn't challenged often in the conference he played in. Forget the dunk he had downstate, Sam "Ups" Thompson of Young shut him down in the state semis. He will have to play a 1, 2, or 3, and I don't see him playing less than a 3 with McCamey, Paul, Jordan, and Richardson playing guard at Illinois. He's got to be able to increase his shooting range and create his own shot. He will need to get stronger to be able to finish down low in the big ten if he can dribble drive to the basket. They aleady have bigs who are not physical and can't post up. Jeremy is small up top. Wayne Blackshear's numbers were actually better than Jeremy's, and he has 3 point range and played against better competition. I heard Blackshear was the money player when they played together on the Mac Irvin Fire. I'm just sayin.... Don't make this kid a superstar yet. One big thing I have to mention is his attitude. We've all seen it and Ashlaw and the people at Waukeegan know he needs a serious attitude check, and is in for a rude awakening if he doesn't get his head right. Same thing with Crandall Head. A head case who played in the Public League that one year, and was just a slightly above average player.... I'm just sayin Joe.

I have been a Richmond fan and defender for four years. Most of the stuff he did was immaturity of a teenager. Problem is media was watching his every move. he didn't have a chance to solve his issues in private. They were all under the watchful eye of the public. I will say in all my interactions with him he has listened, gave me yes sir, no sir responses. He never committed a crime (but media made it seem like he did). He has been a solid citizen never in trouble with the law. His skills are extraordinary for a high school kid. Vision,ball handling,passing, and shooting the mid range jumper which is a lost art. He plays defense and was smart enough to stay out of foul trouble most of his career. He gets in foul trouble Waukegan does not have a chance against most teams. He carried them to two State Final Fours. His half court shot in the Sectional Final at Waukegan vs Warren his junior year(I was there) will live in the history of Illinois basketball for clutch performance. I feel he will end up a College All-American and NBA Player. As for him being uncoachable: ask the West Coach of the McDonald's All-American Game and most of you detractors will be surprised. He brung it in the third place game to the tune of 36 points 16 rebounds 3 assists and 3 blocked shots. And he's been the best player in this state for the last 3 years. Enough said.

Sammy ... I think Joe pointed out very well in this piece that he brings different attributes to the table than other great players. Compare JRich with Evan Turner as seniors in high school. JRich is bigger at the same stage. These kids will fill out. They are young, haven't been exposed to a college weight and conditioning program. As far as head cases, there are head cases across the country playing at high level programs. Its part of basketball nowadays. I get what you saying in regard to your concerns but he has size, talent and skill.

He's a question mark attitude wise. But despite that there are people who support him that have watched him, been around him, coached him. He can't have the same antics he had in high school but he won't be able to have the same leeway in college as he did in high school.

Anyone who doesn't see the great talent and skill in this kid and the future he has (as long as his head is screwed on) is blind.

Joe,

Did you just have a Ralph Mouth reference? I like it. Great article as always. Can't wait to see Jereme in the Orange and Blue.

As always, terrific job in bringing the reader closer to situations, players, etc. without the ramble we get elsewhere. ... But Ralph Malph instead of Mouth?

Common sense writing in this piece! With some actual insight despite the shenanigans Richmond has pulled. If we had a lineup of several of the top players in the country over the years and Richmond was in it, you would hardly be able to pick him out from any of the rest. Pretty harmless stuff, just a bit of an attitude adjustment is needed.

After watching Jereme a dozen or so times the last two years I just don't like the way he carries himself on the floor. But if he can get that corrected and play with more intensity on a regular basis, the sky is the limit. By the way, nice writing and blog. Regular visitor and it is the best written stuff out there on high school basketball. Informative and actually readable! Is there a reason why internet people can never write?

I guess we know attitude has no impact on Mr. Basketball voting. Was wondering if that would get Jereme in the end but obviously it didn't.

HAVE A GREAT COLLEGE CAREER, AND MOST OF ALL CONTINUE TO BE A GOOD CITIZEN!

Joe: Tell me what kind of impact you think jereme will have at Illinois next year as a freshman in terms of numbers, minutes, productivity. Thanks. Always appreciate your insight.

Sammy,

If you don't know how the kid's name is spelled, Jereme, not "Jeremy"...how well do know him? Your comments dong carry a lot of weight.

Bruce Weber has his hands full. Jeremy Richmond, Crandall Head, and Meyers Leonard the 7 footer from Robinson are all great recruits with great potential, but it is very evident that all of them have the same problem. They must grow out of the spoiled brat mentality they have exhibited in their careers. The temper tantrums and the undisciplined behavior has to end, because neither of them are good enough to be successful at the next level without becoming more mature. I'm an Illini fan who wishes them well, and I hope they do mature for the good of the program and for their own individual careers. McCamey is an angel cin coparison to these 3. Ask coach Ashlaw about the double standard he allowed at Waukegan. Jeremy even wore something different than the team members did at the awards ceremony downstate. I'm just sayin, Joe

If I'm not mistaken, doesn't JRich actually look a lot like the Fresh Prince did back in the day? Love it Joe! Thanks for keeping it real.

Joe, I actually do wish "Jereme" and the other recruits well. All kids develop at different paces. The talent is there within all 3 of the recruits. They have the potential to take the Illini back deep into the NCAA tourney even without the expansion to 96 teams. These kids cannot be annointed yet though. They must be challenged to mature because that is key.
I'd like to thank Doug for giving me the correct spelling of Jereme's name. I'm not hatin... I'm just sayin....The brutal facts have got to come out to challenge these kids because they're not there yet.

THE MUSIC GROUP THIRD WORLD HAS A SONG NAMED YOU ARE PLAYING ME TO CLOSE!
I THINK SOME OF YOU ARE PLAYING JEREME RICHMOND TO CLOSE!
ONE PERSON SAYS HE DOESN'T LIKE HOW HE CARRIES HIMSELF ON THE COURT.
ANOTHER PERSON SAYS HE NEEDS TO MATURE, HE IS A SPOILED BRAT, COACH WEBER WILL HAVE HIS HANDS FULL!
I SIMPLY SAY TO ALL, THE YOUNG MAN'S HIGH SCHOOL CAREER IS OVER, HE IS ABOUT TO START A NEW CHAPTER IN HIS LIFE, AND I FOR ONE CAN'T WAIT FOR HIM TO GRADUATE HIGH SCHOOL, AND HIT THE URBANA-CHAMPAIGN CAMPUS RUNNING, I WISH HIM WELL, AND I AM PULLING FOR YOU JEREME, TO ALL THE DOUBTERS I AM NOT UPSET WITH YOU, BUT I WANT YOU TO BE OBJECTIVE, HE COULD BE TEN FEET TALL BUT HE STILL IS A TEENAGER, REMEMBER WHEN YOU WERE A TEENAGER, OH BOY I SURELY DO, SO JEREME GO WITH GOD, AND STAY HUMBLE AND I WISH YOU WELL!
P.S. THANK YOU FOR THE HALF COURT SHOT, THE DUNKS, THE TWO STATE CHAMPIONSHIP TROPHIES FOR WAUKEGAN HIGH SCHOOL, FOR PLAYING IN THE MCDONALDS GAME, THANK YOU FOR A STELLAR HIGH SCHOOL CAREER AND NOW IT IS ON TO THE BIG TEN!
LETS PUT THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN TO BED AND GO LOOKING FOR DINNER!
THAT LAST LINE IS FROM A MOVIE, SO DON'T GET UPSET IF YOU ARE READING INTO IT TO MUCH, GOOD LUCK JEREME AT U OF I!

I hate to tell you Sammy, but Waukegans whole team wore different stuff to the awards ceremony. They looked awful compared to the other teams that all came out in the same warmups and looked very nice. Some wore warmups and some, like Richmond just wore sweat pants and a hoody. However, that has absolutely nothing to do with JRich and basketball at all.

You nailed it Joe, it is GREAT that one of the top high school players nationally from Illinois has stayed home for the home folks to see in person. I hope this is the start of a trend...

To Sammy: No one is anointing anyone. We are talking about one of the better high school basketball players in the country. Of course there are expectations. Do they all pan o ut? No. But you would expect guys like Richmond and other top rated players to before others. He has a chance to be special. A better chance than most players. Of all the past stars that have come through Illinois I think Jereme is less hyped than most.

Another outstanding post Joe! Keep up the great insight and look into high school basketball and recruiting. I think Phil is also providing some great points for readers.

Okay, Okay, Jereme fans. You've all defended him well.
I can tell the brutal facts riled you guys up a little bit. I'm just sayin... and you all know it's true. He has the "po" but as Phil "Caps" Jr. would say: HE MUST GROW UP TO REALIZE IT. I'm sure you guys realize you have to face the facts to truly address an issue. I must admit, I admire you Waukegan fans for your loyalty. Even if I have an opportunity to say I told you so in the future, I won't do it because I really hope the kid does well. I'm just "tellin it like it is." With all due respect, I will say it here: "Good luck to Jereme on his career at the U of I." I also wish Crandall Head and Meyers Leonard the best as well. Go Illini! Happy Easter to Joe, and to all of you fellow basketball blog-heads. The glass slipper won't fit Butler tonight. MSU and WVU for the title on Monday. You saw it here first. Sorry coach K.
Sam - I - Am.

YOU STRUCK OUT TWICE SAMMY!
BUTLER ALL THE WAY, WE ALL KNOW DUKE SHOULD WIN, BUT BUTLER IS IN ITS HOMETOWN, AND HOOSIER HYSTERIA IS EVERYWHERE, SO BUTLER WILL WIN ON A LAST SECOND SHOT!
NAP TOWN WILL NEVER BE THE SAME!

Joe thanks for all your hard work. This piece was especially good work.

Sammy, what you're saying is that a high school kid needs to grow up...thanks for that piece of breaking news!

Phil,

I've been wrong all tourney. It's been a tough year for all of us bracketeers. Mine have been shot for a couple weeks. You could be right tonight if tonight's game holds true to the form of this NCAA season. Go Butler! UIC, Loyola, and the Horizon Leagues needs the credibility.

Peoria Steve:

The breaking news is that Illinois has 3 incoming recruits who are talented, but are also head cases. Their antics and track records prove this fact. They must change their habits as much as they must grow up. Every high school kid is not this way. These guys are the exceptions, not the rule.

As simple as these facts may be, based on your comment, it is probably far beyond your comprehension. Stop trying to converse with knowledgeable basketball people, and go to bed. It's past curfew time in Peoria.

Oh, please. The kid is a senior in high school, and has essentially been doing little but playing basketball and going to school for the last four years. And the basketball never ends for these kids-the high school season ends and the AAU season starts and so on. Do you expect them to be mature, well rounded adults? Were you mature at eighteen? That is what college is for-a "liberal" education is meant to round off the rough edges and give a sense of perspective. Any of us would have a bit of a big head with the hype machine that surrounds a highly touted recruit nowadays.
Every high school kid has some level of immaturity. The vast majority of them don't have to grow up in the limelight. I don't know how many high school kids you have come into contact with, but I think Jereme's problems have a lot to do with the constant scrutiny.

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on April 1, 2010 6:04 PM.

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