Chris Hine of the Chicago Tribune wrote:
Back in January, amid rumors that he was considering a transfer, Illinois freshman Jereme Richmond proclaimed himself, "an Illini for life."
It turns out he meant until April.
In a stunning announcement Tuesday, Illinois said Richmond, the former Waukegan star who committed to the program before his freshman year of high school, will declare for the 2011 NBA Draft. The release said Richmond is working out in Chicago and is weighing his options on hiring an agent and he will not return to Illinois.
"I think it's a sad situation," ESPN analyst and former Illini player Stephen Bardo said. "I clearly don't agree with his decision
I think it's a sad situation that a young man with such promise makes a decision like this based on a number of situations that we're not clear on yet.
"But the end result is that he's gone and it's not good for anybody."
Richmond's lone season was mired by struggles on the court and question away from it.
In a tumultuous Illini season, he averaged 7.6 points per game and had 5.0 rebounds in 31 games, earning him a spot on the all Big Ten freshman team, but hardly the stuff of one-and done NBA prospects. Richmond needed more time to develop in college, Bardo said.
"He could be a pro, there's no doubt about it," Bardo said. "It's just not in his best interest to leave right now, nor is it in Illinois' best interest for him to leave."
Richmond will also have to answer for some issues off the court as well that might raise some red flags with NBA teams.
In January, he missed multiple practices for what Illinois called personal reasons and he was suspended for Illinois' two NCAA tournament games for violating athletic department rules. It is unclear if that suspension was related to a fight Richmond was involved in with teammates after Illinois' 60-55 loss to Michigan in the Big Ten tournament on Mar. 11.