Bertrand Becoming More Consistent

For as much talk as there has been about the quality of Illinois' incoming basketball recruits, they will have a hard time replacing seniors Chester Frazier, Trent Meacham and Calvin Brock. Sterling's Joseph Bertrand is one of the newcomers who will be asked to step in and help. He has talent but is still seeking consistency.

Joseph Bertrand has taken notice of how well Illinois is playing this year and looks forward to his college career.

"Yeah, they're playing real good. I talked to the players, and they're having fun. I can't wait to get up there.

"You've got to be ready for the future, but you have to concentrate on what you're doing right now. Make sure you're getting everything done right now so you can succeed in the future."

Bertrand plays point guard for Sterling High School. But with Demetri McCamey entrenched at that spot for the Illini, his 6'-6" height might be better suited for a wing position.

< P>"I think I might be playing the 2 guard. Demetri is a great point guard. He and Alex (Legion) will make a lot of big buckets for Illinois next year.

"It doesn't really matter to me where I play. I know I need to work on the 2 position, moving more without the ball."

Another big key for Joseph is consistency. He seems to blow hot and cold, looking great sometimes but lost at others. Like Illinois' McCamey, he can lose confidence quickly and get down on himself.

< P>"That's a big part of my game. I've got to come out and play the same way every time out and give 110%."

Some have downgraded Bertrand because he doesn't always use his outstanding athleticism and court vision to dominate every game. But Sterling coach Peter Goff says that is not a good idea, either for Joseph or his team.

"When we play well, everyone gets involved. If we stand around and watch Joseph try to take everyone off the dribble, we struggle. That's what we have to do. And to be honest, Joseph hates doing that. He likes to get everyone involved."

Sterling played poorly at the Shootout at the Hall recently, losing to an excellent Champaign Centennial outfit. But they played much better in blowing out Galesburg at the State Farm Basketball Classic at Normal West High School.

"We played real good today. At the Assembly Hall, we weren't ready at all. But today we talked in the locker room how we wanted to get off to a good start, and we did that. We hadn't had a game in awhile since we had a game that was cancelled. So we came out hungry."

Bertrand showed off a slick crossover to free himself for mid range jumpers, penetrated and dished to open men, and pounded an impressive slam dunk off a rebound. He is playing more relaxed now that he has signed with Illinois to end his recruitment.

"Yeah, it started for me as a freshman. You start getting phone calls and letters, college visits, football games, practicing with the team, that's all a good experience. I'm glad it's over, but I wouldn't change anything.

"All the kids in my class are kind of stressed out trying to find out what school they're going to, but I'm just kind of sitting back and relaxing, enjoying it."

Future teammate Jereme Richmond, a junior at Waukegan High School, threw down the challenge of expecting his Illini to compete for a National Championship. Bertrand is willing to work hard toward that end.

"It's nice to look ahead and see what we can do. That's definitely one of our goals to get back up there. We definitely want to step up to the challenge, play as hard as we can so we can get there."

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