In unexpected news, University of Illinois’ freshman standout Jereme Richmond declared for the 2011 NBA Draft today. Richmond was expected to stay at Illinois for at least another year. However, I guess Richmond decided that he didn’t want to spend any more time on the bench. Richmond averaged 7.6 points and 5 rebounds a game in 31 games for Illinois.
The move is a perplexing one, in my opinion. Had Richmond stayed one more season at Illinois and garnered more playing time he may have been able to help his draft stock a bit more. Not playing at all in the NCAA Tournament due to disciplinary reasons can only hurt his stock. NBA teams value character, but some will take a chance on a talent like Richmond. After all, he’s only 19 years old and has time to mature mentally as well as physically.
On the other hand, with stars like Jared Sullinger deciding to stay in school and others like Harrison Barnes and Kyrie Irving rumored to stay another year as well, Richmond may end up benefitting a bit by leaving early. If Barnes declares for the draft, I can see Richmond getting selected (at best) in the early 20s to early second round. Had Richmond stayed his extra year, he may very well had been a late lottery pick in 2012. He even could have played himself into the top 10, but that’s wishful thinking.