D.J. Richardson is a silky smooth 6' 3" guard who was excited about the challenge of playing against another future Big Ten player, Matt Roth. Unfortunately for Richardson and his teammates, Roth's team won the team game. Surprisingly, the head-to-head match-up between the future Illini and future Hoosier never really came into play in the outcome. Richardson finished the game with a team-high 21 points and Roth put up 16 points. Instead, the star of the night was Washington's 6'3" junior guard, Ben Worner, who scored a game-high 28 points.
Richardson had a great first quarter scoring 10 points, but picked up his second foul early in the second quarter. From that point on, he wasn't as aggressive on offense. Richardson obviously has a load of talent but at times you could see the frustrations on his face from the way Washington focused their defensive attention on him. Richardson was guarded everyplace he went on the court. When he would get past the half-court line, there was someone in his face. When he would go to the corner, he was often double-teamed. Nothing came easy for Richardson.
Watching both teams play, it was clear Washington was able to find ways to get open looks for Roth and Worner. Peoria did not have much success running plays for Richardson as he had to create his own scoring opportunities or get them in transition. It seemed this difficulty frustrated him. When Richardson was able to attack the rim there was always a help-side defender waiting for him.
While most came to watch the two Big Ten recruits, including Illinois Assistant Coach Jerrance Howard who was in attendance, two other players stole the show: Washington's Worner and 6'1" point guard Dyricus Simms-Edwards. The two took the game over. Each time the Lions made a run to cut the Washington lead to less than 10 points, Simms-Edwards or Worner had the answer.
Losing was hard enough on Peoria but even more so because it came at the hands of one of their own. Simms-Edwards used to play for the Lions until he transferred to Washington. He was able to attack the rim at will and when Peoria defenders came to help, Simms-Edwards found the open man, usually either Roth or Worner, wide open. The student section chanted "traitor" each time Simms-Edwards touched the ball, but the Panthers had a comeback, "You're just jealous."
With the loss and the end of the high school season, attention is turned to a summer of AAU basketball for Richardson. He will be playing in Chicago with Larry Butler's Illinois Wolves. We were able to contact Richardson's family last night, but D.J. was still very upset over the loss and did not want to talk about it just yet. We'll be back in contact with him later in the week, so stay with InsideIllini.com.