Leaving the state of Illinois is nothing new for 6'3" shooting guard D.J. Richardson. "I miss being at home, but I've played a lot of AAU basketball so I'm used to being gone," Richardson said. "The only difference is it's a lot longer. I like it here. Everyone has the same goal; that's to get to a DI school."
When Richardson left for prep school Illini Nation feared the worst. There was fear that he might look at other colleges, but Richardson said he will honor his commitment to Illinois.
"I talked with Coach Howard and Coach Weber the other day," Richardson stated. "They're going to come down sometime in September to see me play in an open gym. I also told them nothing has changed with me. I still plan to sign in November."
Some might make the assumption that Richardson has spent his entire life rooting for his home state school. But in reality, he's a bit of a late bloomer when it comes to following the Illini. "I really started to watch them during their Final Four run," Richardson said. "Then when Jamar Smith went there I started to try and watch games when I could. Texas A&M was the first school to offer me a scholarship. I think that's because Coach Howard was there. My list of schools was Illinois, Indiana, Bradley and Texas A&M. But in the end I knew I wanted to be at Illinois. Illinois is my school."
Often times people look up to these young athletes, but it's easy to forget they're fans of the game too. When Richardson was growing up, his favorite Illini player was Luther Head.
"I don't know what it was but I liked him a lot," Richardson admitted. "I studied his game and everything. I used to always tell my friends they would win a championship because he was there. I can remember during the Final Four I made a poster and took it to school trying to show all the North Carolina fans who the best team in college basketball was. They had a great team that year."
Richardson knows the fans are expecting a lot from his class (2009) and the 2010 class. "I think we can get Illinois back to the big game, but it's going to take a lot of work from a lot of people." Richardson stated. "I think some of the alumni that used to play there will need to come back and help us, teach us more about the game. I'm not saying we can't do it my freshman year, but things will have to fall in place."
D.J. would like all Illini fans to know how his season is going. We'll get updates from him during his season and keep you posted.