Home > Illinois basketball > Weber: “I didn’t honestly know” Richmond would go pro

Weber: “I didn’t honestly know” Richmond would go pro

CHAMPAIGN – Bruce Weber doesn’t expect any more departures from the Illinois roster this offseason, the Illini coach said following Tuesday’s team banquet.

Of course, Weber didn’t exactly foresee Jereme Richmond entering the NBA Draft­­.

“I didn’t honestly know Jereme was going to go because it was from one day to the next a total different mindset,” Weber said. “Like I said before, I just wish him the best. I hope he works at it and makes it because it will be good for everyone in the long run.”

Richmond – who was suspended during the Illini’s two NCAA Tournament games for undisclosed reasons – returned to the Illinois campus on March 28 following the Illini’s second-round loss to Kansas, met with coaches and went through workouts with the team.

But within a few days, his focus shifted toward the draw of the NBA.

“He was there Monday and was all fired up and was going to be part of (the Illini team),” Weber said. “Then he came in Wednesday and he said, ‘I’m thinking about it.’ Then we talked and talked to mom and dad. It went through that week and then the weekend he made that decision. He had it in his mind that he needed to leave. That’s his mindset.”

Teammates were just as surprised to see Richmond, who avereaged 7.6 points and 5.0 rebounds in 31 collegiate games, bolt for the NBA.

“It was a little shocking,” senior Mike Davis said. “We all know how talented he is. We know he can play in the NBA. But is he ready? I think he’ll get drafted in the first round. He’s a tremendous talent, a rare talent. He can play the one through four.”

Richmond  likely will hire an agent soon, Weber said, and forgo his three remaining years of NCAA eligibility. Most scouting services predict Richmond to be selected in the late first to second round of the draft.

“The big thing is he has to hit the gym and be ready,” Weber said. “If you’re going to make a move, you got to go and you got to work at it.

“I think he’ll have an opportunity.”

Davis, who has his own NBA dreams, said interviews with NBA teams could significantlly affect Richmond’s draft stock.

“Everyone’s going to want to know why you’re leaving,” Davis said. “What happened? If he comes back with positive reviews from interviews he’ll be fine.”

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