D.J. Richardson’s dream has been to play in the NBA.
Today, the former Illini will take the first step toward realizing that goal while participating in front of representatives from all 30 NBA teams — and alongside 63 other college seniors — at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament.
“I’ve just been hearing about a lot of guys who went out there and made it to the NBA,” Richardson said. “That’s definitely my goal to get there.”
In the various mock drafts, the 6-foot-3 guard isn’t listed as one of the 60 players NBA analysts expect to be selected in the June draft. Teammate Brandon Paul is considered a second-round pick by most, but he declined an invitation to participate in Portsmouth.
“Brandon showed his talents and what he can do in the Big Ten tournament and the NCAA tournament,” Richardson said. “The game he had against Minnesota and in the rest of the tournament games, he showed what he can do. This is an opportunity for me to get out there with some of the best players and show what I can do.”
Richardson averaged a career-best 12.3 points this season while shooting a career-low 32.2 percent (83 for 258) from behind the three-point line.
Despite the low percentage from long range, Richardson’s reputation at Illinois was that of a capable outside shooter and a lockdown perimeter defender. Those two areas will be his ticket at the professional level be it in the NBA or overseas.
“I’ve been doing a lot of ball-handling and shooting from the NBA three-point line,” said Richardson, who has been going through workouts with Illinois assistant coach Jamall Walker. “I know what I’m capable of doing. I can defend and I can shoot and I just want to go out there and show the scouts that I can definitely do that at a high level.”
If the NBA doesn’t work out, the Peoria product is prepared for a career abroad.
“I can still go out there and make good money,” he said.
Richardson said he took three days off after Illinois’ season ended in the NCAA tournament with a loss to Miami on March 24.
“I didn’t have time to take a vacation, this is business time,” said Richardson, who plans to select and sign with an agent later this week. “I’ll have time to celebrate when I find out where I land later this summer around draft time.”