Former Illinois forward Jereme Richmond facing jail time

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The life of Jereme Richmond took another sad turn on Thursday, as he was found guilty on two of three counts of harassment of a witness in connection with an incident involving his probation officer.

According to the court Richmond, who played one season at Illinois before leaving the school to turn pro, made verbal threats and a shooting gesture in response to the officer’s refusal to allow him to take a makeup drug test instead of requiring him to appear in court for violating the terms of his probation.

Just before the probation office closed on April 25, Richmond came in and wanted to submit a urine test in lieu of the previously missed tests. The probation officer refused him, saying the office was closing for the day and she would see him in court the next morning.

Officials said Richmond, who was upset, told the officer to “be safe. be real safe,” as he was leaving the building. He then waited across the street in his parked car for several minutes before backing out of the spot and making what two secretaries and an IT employee, who were watching out of a window, described as shooting gestures with his hand before circling the office in the car and being pulled over by sheriff’s deputies.

Richmond, who’s been in jail on $250,000 bond since the April 25 incident, will be sentenced on September 26 and faces anywhere from probation to 3-7 years in prison. Richmond’s legal troubles began in August 2011, when he was arrested on a number of charges including battery, possession of a firearm and domestic violence.

That occurred just months after Richmond, who averaged 7.6 points per game in his lone season at Illinois, went undrafted in the 2011 NBA Draft. Richmond was disciplined by then-head coach Bruce Weber on multiple occasions during the 2010-11 season, and those issues played a role in his not being selected. Richmond had a brief stint with the Sauk Valley Predators of the Premier Basketball League this past spring, leaving the team a few weeks before the April incident with his probation officer.

Before leaving the Predators, Richmond told the [Chicago] Tribune he wasn’t focused on getting to the NBA — “I just want to be happy, man” — but hoped to further his basketball career once his probation was over.

Unfortunately for Richmond, his basketball career may be coming to an end.

No. 1 Kentucky survives without Tyler Ulis in lineup

Tyler Ulis
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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Less than a week after giving No. 2 Maryland all they could handle, Illinois State went into Lexington and gave No. 1 Kentucky fits.

The Redbirds never really threatened UK in the second half, but they went into the break tied and were within single digits down the stretch, eventually losing 75-63.

Kentucky was flustered. They turned the ball over 15 times compared to just eight assists, they shot 2-for-12 from three and just 29-for-46 (63 percent) from the charity stripe. They simply did not handle Illinois State’s pressure all that well.

And there was a reason for that.

Tyler Ulis didn’t play.

Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate just what a player brings to a team until that player is not in the lineup, and that was precisely the case with Ulis on Monday night. It was crystal clear what he provides Kentucky. Beyond leadership and the ability to break a press without throwing the ball to the other team, he’s a calming presence. He doesn’t get rattled when a defender is harassing him and he doesn’t get overwhelmed by a situation like a mid-major threatening the No. 1 team in the country in their own gym.

He’s everything you look for in a pure point guard, and for as good as Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe have looked at times this season, it should be crystal clear who the most important player on this Kentucky team is.

LSU loses to Charleston, eliminates at-large bid margin for error

Ben Simmons
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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Ben Simmons scored 15 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, the second time in his six-game career that the LSU freshman has collected that many caroms, but that wasn’t enough for the Tigers to avoid dropping a game on the road to the College of Charleston, 70-58. It was the third straight loss for Simmons’ crew, as they fell to Marquette and N.C. State at the Legends Classic last week.

But here’s the thing: LSU didn’t just lose.

The game really wasn’t close.

LSU was down by as many as 23 points. It was 39-17 at the half, and that was after Charleston had a shot at the buzzer called off upon review. They made a bit of a run in the second half but never got closer than seven. When LSU would cut into the lead, the Cougars would respond with a run of their own, killing LSU’s spirit while keeping them at arm’s length.

[RELATED: Ben Simmons’ one college year a waste?]

Now, there are quite a few things here to discuss. For starters, LSU’s effort was, at best, apathetic, and, at worst, regular old pathetic. The team has a serious lack of leadership that was plainly evident on Monday night; would Fred VanVleet let his team fold against a program picked to finish at the bottom of the SoCon? Would Tyler Ulis? For that matter, would Tom Izzo or Mike Krzyzewski or John Calipari?

Perhaps more importantly, does any of that change when Keith Hornsby and Craig Victor get back?

Simmons did show off his potential — 18 boards, four assists, he even made his first three of the year — but he also showed precisely why there are scouts that are trying to curtail the LeBron James comparisons. Simmons was 4-for-15 from the floor with seven turnovers against a mediocre mid-major team. There are so many things that Simmons does well, but scoring efficiently — particularly in half court setting — and shooting the ball consistently are not on that list.

But here’s the biggest issue: LSU may have put themselves in a situation where they aren’t a tournament team. As of today, they’re 3-3 on the season with losses to a pair of teams that, at best, seem destined to be in the bubble conversation on Selection Sunday in addition to this loss to Charleston. The rest of their non-conference schedule is ugly. The only game worth noting is at home against No. 6 Oklahoma at the end of January.

The NCAA factors in non-conference schedule strength when determining at-large teams. You need to at least try, and LSU didn’t try; they have one of the worst non-conference schedules in the country.

The great thing about being in the SEC — as opposed to, say, the Missouri Valley — is that the Tigers will have plenty of chances to earn marquee wins. Six, by my court: Kentucky twice, Texas A&M twice, Vanderbilt on the road and Oklahoma at home. They probably need to win at least two or three of those games to have a real chance, and that’s assuming they can avoid anymore horrid losses in the process.

The season isn’t over six games in, not by any stretch of the imagination.

But LSU has done a hell of a job eliminating their margin for error.