Illini fans nationwide can grin from ear-to-ear about Illinois' incoming recruiting class. It seems like every week one of Bruce Weber's future players is doing something that attracts local and national attention. This weekend it was 6'3" guard D.J. Richardson of Peoria, Illinois.
"This was a big weekend for me, my coach Larry Butler kept telling us all spring during workouts we were preparing for the Peach Jam," Richardson said. "I wasn't able to make the LeBron James and Paul Pierce showcases, so I wanted to prove myself."
The smooth guard did more than prove himself, as he finished second in the tournament in scoring, averaging over 21 points a game. Richardson stated Coach Butler told him he was the best player at the event in his eyes.
"I think I had games of 30, 21, 19 and 14, but I wasn't able to finish," Richardson said. "I had to get back for summer school. I had to take an English class again. I had two C's but wanted better, now I have two A's."
Today a source close to Richardson said former national recruiting guru Bob Gibbons saw Richardson play his first game and followed him for the remainder of the event. He also stated that Richardson did wonders for his national ranking and his chances of possibly playing in the prestigious McDonald's All-American game.
"Coach Butler called me because I wasn't able to go down there and asked me what got into Dune (D.J.)," D.J. Richardson Sr. stated. "I said, we watched the NBA draft together and I told him you know what you have to do if you want to hear your name called one day."
"People don't know how much he plays and loves the game," Richardson Sr. said. "He got back in town Monday night at 10:50. He got up at 7:00, went to summer school, got out at 2:30, now he's at an open gym. When he gets home he will eat, go outside, turn on the light and work his butt off. If I don't tell him it's time for bed, he'll never come in. He's been more a passing guard his entire life; now he's looking to score more which makes it a lot easier to find his teammates."
For the remainder of the summer Richardson plans to stay on the weights and work on all aspects of his game. He said the most important thing is to get better each time out.
Richardson was able to participate against a future teammate in 6'7" sophomore Jereme Richmond. "I really like his game, but I feel bad for him," Richardson said. "They don't use him and get the ball to him enough. Coach Jerrance Howard liked how we went at each other though; he said that's how it's supposed to be. It makes us both better."
Richardson has one more event this summer to showcase his skill and prove last weekend wasn't a fluke. On July 23rd he will be in Orlando, Florida for nationals where all of the nation's best players and teams will be. We'll stay in contact with Richardson to keep you updated on his performance.
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