Memo to Jereme Richmond:
You and your Waukegan teammates recently played a game in Ames, Iowa, that was nationally televised live on ESPN. The marquee read: Matchup of Illinois-bound Jereme Richmond, the top-rated player in Illinois, against North Carolina-bound Harrison Barnes, the No. 1 player in the United States.
For high school kids, it doesn't get much better than that.
I couldn't wait to read your Friday diary in the Sun-Times to learn how it feels to compete in that kind of environment.
I'm still waiting.
What a disappointment.
Instead, ad nausea, I was subjected to another weekly rendition of what team you played against last week and what team you'll play this week.
What a golden opportunity you are missing.
By most accounts, you are an intelligent, fast maturing and talented high school senior who has worked hard to master the skills and techniques of the game of basketball...shooting, ball-handling, passing, rebounding, defending, team play. The only criticism seems to be that you have a tendency not to play hard all the time, a deficiency that Illinois coach Bruce Weber almost certainly will correct.
But, if you are moving on to the college level and perhaps to the NBA, you have to learn how to master the media, too. As sports editor John Justin Smith said when he hired him to cover high school sports for the old Chicago Daily News in 1968: "Make them walk and talk." In other words, who are they and what do they think?
Jereme, your weekly diary gives you an opportunity to tell people in Illini Nation and elsewhere who you are, what you think, your goals, where you've been and where you're going. If you weren't who you are, the top-rated player in Illinois, you wouldn't have been asked to do the diary. So spill your guts. Skip the travelogue and give everybody an insight into who Jereme Richmond is and why he is somebody we want to read about.
What was your reaction to playing against Harrison Barnes? Is he that good? Is he overrated? What gives him an edge? What did you learn from the experience?
This week, you're playing at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament. Are you aware of the great tradition of the event? What did you learn last year? How important is it to beat Peoria Manual or Simeon? Do you want to make a statement?
How good is this Waukegan team? Last year, you finished second to Whitney Young for the Class 4A championship. But Colin Nickerson, the second best player on the team, graduated. How much of a loss was that? Is this team better? What does it have to do to get to the state final once again?
You are being touted as one of the best players in state history. How important is it for you to achieve that status? How does it feel to be compared to the likes of George Wilson, Cazzie Russell, Quinn Buckner and Isiah Thomas? Do you know very much about the history of high school basketball in Illinois?
What makes a great player? What gives you an edge? How much better can you be? What kind of contribution do you hope to make at Illinois? How excited are you to join Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson, Meyers Leonard and Crandall Head on coach Bruce Weber's team next year?
These are the kinds of things that people want to know. You have the answers, your opinions, your feelings. Tell them what you think. All of us want to know.