Watching D.J. Richardson play defense at Findlay Prep, coach Todd Simon saw a lot that he liked. But there was one little move, smart and subtle, that really caught his eye.
''He would get low defensively and get a hand low, almost between the (ball handler's) knees and kind of direct guys in the direction he wanted them,'' said Simon, who was an assistant in Richardson's single season at the Nevada prep school. ''We call it the rudder hand. ... He would come up with a lot of stops and a lot of steals just by that slight little hand thing.''
Richardson was an all-state performer his junior year in Peoria, Ill., and had already committed to Illinois. But on he needed something special to break into a lineup that already produced three NBA players - Avery Bradley, Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson.
On his own almost 1,700 miles from home, the kid from the blue-collar town by the Illinois River found what he needed in skills he brought with him: Hard-nosed, smart defense.