Catching up with Jereme Richmond
Throughout the 2010-11 season, USA Basketball is talking to athletes who competed for the red, white and blue this past summer. Weíre asking them to look back at their international experience, to talk about their current basketball season and to describe what they hope to achieve in the future. Check back often to read up on more USA Basketball athletes at usabasketball.com.
Exuberant after winning a gold medal last summer at the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship, Jereme Richmond gave the fans in San Antonio something to cheer about each time he came off the bench for the USA U18 National Team in the five-game tournament.
Averaging a USA fourth-best 10.8 points a game on a deadly 75.0 percent shooting percentage, which led all players in the eight-team tournament, and a team second-best (tie) 5.8 rebounds an outing, Richmond honed his defensive skills, learned to come off the bench with a spark and gelled with his teammates.
In addition to the games, Richmond experienced for the first time what a college practice is like from USA head coach Jeff Capel of the University of Oklahoma and USA assistants Paul Hewitt from Georgia Tech and Reggie Witherspoon from the University at Buffalo. Those practices not only readied the USA U18 team for its gold-medal run, they prepared Richmond for what would come while playing NCAA Division I basketball.
Soon after the conclusion of the tournament, Richmond took what he learned and headed off to Champaign, Ill., and partly due to his U18 experience, Richmond spent less time adjusting to the rigors of college hoops than most incoming freshmen. In just his fourth game, Richmond had his first double-digit outing, scoring 11 points against Texas, including a jumper to send the game into overtime. While Illinois didnít win that one, Richmond proved heís on his way to making his mark at the school.† As of Jan. 8, Richmond has earned a pair of starts in the last three games and contributed 7.5 ppg. and 4.6 rpg. overall in his teamís 15 games, as Illinois has rolled to a 12-3 mark to start the season, including 2-0 in Big Ten Conference play.
The 2010 Illinois Mr. Basketball said he is adjusting to college life, enjoying his classes, keeps in touch with his USA teammates and is looking forward to an opportunity to return and play for USA Basketball again in the future.
What did he think about winning gold, Capelís practices and his overall USA Basketball experience? We recently caught up with Richmond over the phone to find out.
What has your first season of college basketball been like so far?
Itís been good. Itís been a little tougher than I thought as far as staying mentally and physically focused every day, and the preparation that goes into every game and every possession. Other than that, Iím having a good time.
Whatís the toughest thing youíve had to adjust to at Illinois?
Time management. Getting up every day and going to class and then making it to practice every day and being ready to perform every day.
How does it differ from anything else youíve played?
Itís different because in college, everyoneís very physical, especially the top teams. They know how to guard. They have a good defensive scheme, especially if youíre a highly-touted player coming in. So, you have to stick to the game plan and do what the coach asks you to.
How did playing for coach Capel get you prepared for playing at this level?
His practices were very intense. That prepared me for the college level, because right now weíre doing some of the same drills and have the same intensity. Getting an early taste of college practices was something that was very beneficial for me.
What did you learn from playing for college coaches for three weeks?
Mainly that you have to come prepared every day. Even if you donít have the best day or the best game, you have to compete every play, every possession. That was something I really learned from coach Capel and his staff.
What are some of your best memories of the USA Basketball U18 National Team - both on and off the court?
On the court, how hard we play every game and how much camaraderie we had, winning games by 60-plus points and ultimately winning a gold medal.
Off the court it was how tight we were. Everyone was always in each otherís room. Everyone got along really well. We had a lot of fun off the court.
Do you still keep in touch with your teammates?
I talk to Quincy Miller. I talk to Tony Mitchell every now and then. Other than that, everyoneís pretty much focused on their season, so everyoneís pretty much doing their own thing right now.
What are some of your favorite classes?
I really enjoyed my comm class, my public speaking class. I had to present, speak in front of my class and get a little taste of what itís like to speak in front of a large crowd. Thatís probably one of my best subjects.
That probably helps you get prepared for your basketball interviews, right?
Oh yeah, definitely. You have to speak up; you have to speak out. It was a good experience.
What do you like most about being at college?
Probably the schedule. You would think that itís hard being on a strict schedule, but it provides some stability and structure in your life. It makes you accountable for what you have to do day-to-day. Thatís probably the best thing about college, you have to grow up a little bit.
You played University of Illinois-Chicago in December, did a lot of your family come out to support you?
Yeah, my mom is from there. A lot of people came out. My mom came with a lot of her side of the family.
Is that important to have a lot of family support?
Yes, itís cool, because a lot of times they donít get to come out to Champaign and definitely not the road trips. So to be able to be a little closer to home, my family could make it out and thatís really important to me.
Did you follow the USA Menís World Championship Team this summer?
Yeah, I saw that. Kevin Durant was the boss on that team. I followed them. I watched some of the games, watched them win the gold medal and it was a joy. After this year, we won the gold medal at every level. That was a good way to represent.
Did you feel more connected to that team, having won a gold medal for your country?
I did, actually. Thatís something that no one can ever take away from any of us. To see the older guys in the same kind of program, winning all their games, it makes our gold medal mean so much because weíre all representing our country.
Finally, would you come back and play for USA Basketball again?
No doubt. Iíll be there if they ask me to. Iíd love to come back and compete for my country again.