Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Big Ten Basketball Departures

Jereme Richmond has declared for the Developmental League Draft. The writing was probably on the wall when he was semi-suspended for Illinois's two tournament games, but now its official: Jereme Richmond will be taking his talents to Maine or Reno. Richmond was a McDonald's All-American (Illinois's first since Dee Brown) and made the Big Ten All-Freshman team this season, but his Illini career has to be seen as a massive disappointment. Here's Bruce Weber with a teeth-gritting pat on the back:
Jereme is an extremely talented player who helped us at nearly every position," Weber said. "His versatility and ability to impact the game in a number of different areas are skills that will help him greatly as he pursues his dream of playing professional basketball. We wish Jereme the best and thank him for all he has meant to the Illinois basketball program, from the time he committed as a high school freshman through his contributions this past season.
A guess: Richmond doesn't make the Weber family Christmas Card this year. This isn't a Darius Morris "testing the waters" declaration either; Richmond doesn't know where he's headed, but it's not Chambana. Illinois now loses four seniors and a freshman that played about 20 minutes per game. I can't see Bruce Weber's seat getting cooler next year.

Understandably, Illinois fans are a little skeptical that Richmond has made the correct decision, but (and this is speculation) there's a good chance Richmond wasn't going to be permitted to return next year anyway; the silence from the coaching staff as to the true reason for his suspension suggests academic problems that they can't technically comment upon yet. If so, Richmond is better off earning a salary somewhere than playing for a junior college in Nome.

Cullen Payne is no longer a Hawkeye: Payne played quite a bit as a freshman on Todd Lickliter's final version of the black and gold, but sat most of this year with sports hernia. As such, the loss will be felt a little less than Richmond's departure from the Illini, but he was a starter in the Big Ten as a freshman with (likely) three more years of eligibility, assuming he gets a medical redshirt for this season. He was also a ballhander, which Iowa isn't swimming in at the moment. Assuming he still wants to play basketball, he'll land somewhere in D-1. Black Heart Gold Pants with thoughts here.

Paul Lusk takes the Missouri State position: Assistant coaching positions are funny in basketball. Because there are only three of them per team, every coach is usually seen as essential for either recruiting or game preparation (or they're reviled by their team's fanbase). Teams lose assistant coaches, and life tends to go on.

Lusk was closer to Painter than most assistant coaches are, however, and was seen as something as a coach-in-waiting for Purdue should something happen. With Painter's re-commitment to the Boilermakers, that "something" is more hypothetical than it was a week ago. Hammer and Rails talks about the departure here; Boiled Sports breaks down some potential replacements here, with the caveat that Purdue probably isn't getting a guy like Dakich. Chances are they'll nab a guy no one has heard of, and he'll do fine. Or he'll be hated.