D.J. Richardson has always been easy to root for -- a good player, a better leader, and if you ever have the pleasure of meeting him, a genuinely nice guy.
Now, given his explosion over the past several games, it is really easy to root for him. I came to a revelation last night as I watched the offense struggle against Penn State. Abrams dribbled off an Egwu screen, Brandon Paul curled out behind the arc looking for a pass and Bertrand stayed in the corner. A very average Illini possession with no successful end in sight. I thought, "They should iso D.J. at the top of the key."
I've thought that plenty about Bertrand and BP and even Abrams, at times. But never D.J. He was a slasher in high school, but for the past three years, I just figured that skill didn't translate to the college level. D.J. was a spot-up shooter and that was that.
I was wrong. I'm so happy to admit it. His improvement, or explosion, or whatever you want to call it displays itself in all its glory on the court. It is also evident through this stat:
D.J. is averaging more than 17 points over the last nine games. He scored 17 points ZERO times over the first 19 games.