University of Illinois freshman Jereme Richmond, amidst a swirl of transfer rumors, released a statement Monday night declaring he was, “an Illini for life.”
Richmond did not play in the Illini’s loss to Wisconsin over the weekend because he had missed practice on Thursday and Friday with an illness that can be described as homesickness. He left the team and school for a few days and went back to his hometown of Waukegan, Ill. to huddle with his family over “personal matters.”
Richmond practiced with the team on Monday and in limited statements to select media sources coach Bruce Weber keeps using the word “hopeful” when referring to Richmond’s future with Illinois. Not exactly a ringing endorsement.
After missing the two practice sessions and the Wisconsin game, the Big Ten Network’s Jim Jackson fueled the transfer flames with a tweet that sources had informed him that Richmond MAY leave Illinois.
Richmond seems to have hit the freshman wall of Big 10 play. It’s one thing to play against easy non-conference opponents, but an entirely different story in the competitive Big 10 conference season. Compounding matters is the slow healing Achilles injury Richmond has endured.
Richmond is averaging 7.4 points and 4.5 rebounds a game. He has been a significant spark off the bench for Illinois. Weber has said that Richmond should play Tuesday night when the Illini host Michigan State and look to stop their two-game skid.
The statement Richmond released via the athletic department reads-
“I dealt with some personal issues last week that caused me to miss two practices while I was home with my family in Waukegan. With the help of Coach Weber and my family, I have worked through this situation. I appreciate their support and the support of my teammates for getting me through a difficult time. Unfortunately, my absence led to some false rumors that I want to put to rest. I have been and always will be 100 percent committed to the Illinois basketball program. My coaches and teammates are my family, and I’m looking forward to helping our team achieve our goals. I am an Illini for life.”