Jereme Richmond has been on the national radar since his freshman year in high school. Ranked as one of the five or ten best players in his class, Illinois secured an early commitment from him. Jereme has continued to develop his nearly limitless game. And now as a junior, he is beginning to lead his Waukegan high school team to championships.
Father Bill has documented the journey on video. He enjoys discussing his young prodigy.
"We're very proud of Jereme. He's doing quite well."
That's an understatement. Waukegan played Evanston on national television Saturday night, and Jeremy drew rave reviews. According to his dad, Jereme wasn't just motivated to showcase his talents.
"Jeremy did play a little better than average game. That's the third time this year the team's been on television. I wouldn't say he plays better because of television. It was a big game.
"It was homecoming for Jereme because he was born in Evanston, and we lived there for most of his life. He has two cousins who play on that team, Ryan Frazier-Chambers and Eric Dortch. I and my whole family went to Evanston, so it was a personal thing with Jereme."
When motivated, Richmond can take over a game with his diverse skills. One scribe credited him with 14 points, 13 rebounds and 9 blocked shots. But most observers felt he had a guaranteed triple double.
"It was a really good game," Bill describes. "It was an exciting game. The reporter for the Sun-Times said he had nine blocks. I wasn't counting, but another person that is really good with stats had Jereme with 15 blocks. Nine of them were very obvious ones. But I know it was well above nine."
Some are disappointed when Jereme isn't the scoring leader, but his game is about much more than just scoring. At 6'-7", he is a point forward who can penetrate from the point or wing and dish off to teammates with amazing court vision and timing.
"He's working hard at getting his team involved first. He's never been a slow starter, but he'd rather get his team involved and then let his game come to him rather than try to force the game."
Richmond has picked up his play this conference season, helping Waukegan to an unbeaten Central Suburban championship. This is no small feat for the school.
"This is the first time in years Waukegan has won the conference. The last time they won conference was 1993. We're looking for big things in the post season, that's for sure. They go to the Hoffman Estates regional."
Jereme isn't the only top player for Waukegan. Fairfield signee Colin Nickerson is one of the most underrated players in the state, and he and Richmond are formidable playing together.
"Colin Nickerson averages 19 points a game, and he has really jelled nicely with Jereme. But they've played basketball for years together. It's not like they just met this year. They're best friends, and they're in each others' homes on a regular basis. He's like another family member."
Some wonder if Nickerson's graduation will make it harder for Jereme to avoid double teams when he is a senior. Father Bill says there is more talent ready to help his star son.
"We've got some secrets up here. There are a couple kids who I'm sure are gonna be able to contribute. Maybe not as much as Colin, but I think they're not gonna drop off that far. Akeem Springs is a 6'-1" freshman who contributes a lot this year. He's gonna turn out quite nicely. His first cousin Mike (Springs) is gonna be a senior next year."