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A Lake County judge said Wednesday that at least for the time being, a former Waukegan basketball standout charged with a pair of felonies will be playing strictly on his home court.
At Jereme Richmond's arraignment on aggravated battery and gun charges, Richmond's attorney said his client has offers to "work out" with members of NBA teams in anticipation of Richmond being allowed to enter basketball's elite circuit.
"There is a strong probability my client is going to be drafted by the NBA," Northfield attorney James Schwarzbach told Circuit Judge Daniel Shanes.
"He will be traveling to several cities over the next few months to work out with NBA players in anticipation of being selected by one of those teams."
Shanes, however, said that traveling can get Richmond penalized because he is prohibited from leaving the state while on bond for the charges.
Richmond, 19, is accused of striking a 17-year-old woman on Aug. 7 who he had a dating relationship with, and along with another man was arrested the following day outside the woman's house with what police say was a loaded gun.
Richmond had a stellar basketball career at Waukegan High School, where some observers thought he was among the best players to come out of Illinois in a long time. He played for the University of Illinois but left the team after his freshman year to enter the NBA draft. He had disciplinary issues at both Waukegan and Illinois, which got him benched on occasion.
No NBA team drafted Richmond, however, and many speculated he had tried to go pro before he was ready.
Richmond pleaded not guilty to aggravated battery and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon Wednesday before Schwarzbach requested the change in the bond conditions that would allow Richmond to leave the state.
"This young man has a unique skill set that is time specific, that puts him in a unique position," Schwarzbach said. "This is an extremely important opportunity for him and it is literally now or never."
Assistant State's Attorney Victor O'Block objected, saying Richmond had been rated a high risk to re-offend in a report prepared by the pretrial bond services division.
Shanes said he was more likely to allow travel outside the boundaries set by bond for people who have jobs than those who are looking for one.
"I am less inclined to let him go play basketball here, there and everywhere without actual employment," Shanes said. "He can work out here as well as anywhere else, although I am aware that his company might be better somewhere else."
Shanes said he would take the matter up again on Monday after Schwarzbach said Richmond would collect letters from NBA "players, coaches or whomever" that more clearly detail the opportunity Richmond has.
The second man charged in the gun incident, Matthew Riley, 22, of North Chicago, also pleaded not guilty Wednesday to aggravated unlawful use of weapon.
Riley's attorney, Eric Rineheart of Waukegan, told Shanes he wants the prosecution to turn over records of the call that sent Waukegan police cars to the house where Riley and Richmond were arrested. Calling it "A case of misdemeanor facts with felony consequences," Rineheart said he may file a motion challenging the legal grounds for his client's arrest.
Riley is also scheduled to appear in court again Monday.