CHAMPAIGN — Apparently, the news that Jereme Richmond has left the Illinois basketball program did not, in fact, shake the hoops world from its axis.
"Are you serious?" Illini recruit Devin Langford said Wednesday when told Richmond had announced he would enter the NBA draft. "That's crazy, man. But good for him. Best of luck to him."
Down in Alabama, where Langford is wrapping up his senior season at Huntsville Lee, the Richmond bombshell did not register on the Richter scale. Or even the Richmond scale.
Langford was not aware the Illini freshman was forgoing three years of eligibility to turn pro. The senior guard — who is 6-foot-6 or 6-7, depending on whom you ask — spent time with Richmond during a recruiting visit. Langford's reaction mirrored that of the Illini fan base.
"I mean, it surprises me, but it gives me a lot of hope," he said.
For more playing time?
"Not so much playing time, really. But making it to the next level, that it can be done."
Langford can sign a national letter of intent during the regular signing period that opens April 13. He said he has full intentions of doing so, before arriving at Illinois in June.
"It's (April) the 13th, right? I can't wait," Langford said. "I've been waiting for this for a long time. I can't even tell you."
Langford ended his high school career on the state's biggest stage — the Alabama Class 5A championship game in March. Huntsville Lee was defeated 89-85 in the title game after losing an 18-point lead in the fourth quarter. Langford had 17 points and 10 rebounds.
"Losing in the championship, that was tough. It was a crazy game," Langford said. "It was still fun. The team we played, they were pretty good. They played a lot like us (fast). They gave us a taste of our own medicine."
For most of his prep career, Langford said, he shuttled between three positions: point guard, off guard and small forward. He said he expects to play all three perimeter positions at Illinois, as well.
Langford is the only one of five incoming freshmen who did not sign with Illinois in November. He committed to the Illini shortly after the early signing period. He said he spoke with UI coach Bruce Weber as recently as "the other day."
Weber was planning to be at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament on Wednesday in Virginia. Illinois seniors Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale had their first games in the pro showcase later Wednesday night.
The UI coach had plans to recruit today and Friday. The annual Illinois basketball banquet is scheduled for Tuesday in Urbana.
"I like talking to him (Weber)," Langford said. "We just talk about school mainly, what I need to do, summer school. That kind of thing."