ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Illinois coach Bruce Weber said Thursday he was concerned about Jereme Richmond's future when he decided to leave the program following his freshman season.
Since departing Illinois last season, Richmond, who was not selected in the NBA draft in June, was arrested for battery and weapon charges after allegedly threatening his ex-girlfriend and her father in August. He returned to jail after failing a drug test last week.
"Anytime a kid leaves a program, who they pick as an agent, who they listen to, those things are all important," Weber said at the Big Ten basketball media day. "There's no doubt. It's every kid, but in Jereme's case just to make the right decision and go the right way. Things didn't go the right way for him obviously. It's sad. It's a sad story of sports and athletics."
Richmond was considered Weber's most significant recruit during his Illinois tenure. Richmond committed to Illinois as a freshman and was a McDonald's All-American his senior season at Waukegan High School.
Weber has attempted to get in touch with Richmond, but to no avail.
"I texted him a little bit, but he doesn't respond much to anybody," Weber said. "I've tried to call the mom off and on to offer support. Now, it hasn't gotten any better."
Illinois junior guard D.J. Richardson is hopeful his former teammate can still turn his life around.
"Just being a friend of Jereme, it's kind of tough for me," Richardson said. "Being a young teenager, you make some mistakes that you'll regret in the future. Hopefully, he'll get through all this and have a good future ahead of him.
"During last season, Jereme was just humble. He was just trying to get better. Sometimes he had the wrong people in his ear, and he made the wrong decision in the end."
Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.