D.J. Richardson is a Bruce Weber kind of player: very athletic, aggressive on defense, plays hard, knows how to win and most of all, he's considered one of the state's best in the Class of 2009.
Fans will love D.J. He's a great kid with a big heart. Last weekend Richardson made another visit to Champaign and simply fell in love with the place, according to a close friend of the family.
Two years ago, I was in a situation where I saw Richardson two to three times a week during practice and game situations. He's the real deal and his family has the right attitude. Never once did I hear them brag or get "too" big for those around them. They knew D.J was special and each time someone would throw out a compliment, the family's response would be, "D.J. needs to work on his game more, and get in the weight room." Once his father told me they had to put more lights out in their yard because D.J.'s second room was out back in the driveway. They have to force him to come in at times just to rest.
For all those that feel Weber has "missed" out and Illinois basketball is going down, not up, let me give you something to think about. Current freshman guard Demetri McCamey will be there and he is already making a big difference. He fits in very well with this year's team and will be counted on to be a major contributor for the 2007-08 Fighting Illini. Now you add Richardson, who I feel will complement Brian Carlwell, McCamey, Mike Tisdale, Bill Cole and Mike Davis who could become the sleeper in the entire class, his upside is tremendous. Then, once you really look into the crystal ball, you see 6-6 Jereme Richmond, who is already a five-star recruit here at Scout.com and will be a Top 10 recruit nationally by his senior season.
Things will be fine in Illini Land. There are good players down there and from the looks of things Richardson may not be the only player to make the pledge. Stay tuned for more.
Richardson is a 6-4 guard from Peoria (IL) and plays his AAU basketball now for the Illinois Stars. The recent hire of Assistant Coach Jerrance Howard had a lot to do with Richardson's verbal, but the kid has always liked Coach Weber.
Here at InsideIllini.com we'll talk to D.J. later tonight after school.