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A Night in Jersey: Future Wildcat fouls out in front of Calipari, KSR


“What are you doing here?”

That is what John Calipari said to me when I walked into the Primetime Shootout at Roselle Catholic High School in New Jersey on a snowy Sunday evening. It was a fair question — and to be honest, I’m not really sure why I was there either.

The plan was to go to the Primetime Shootout to interview Nick Richards, one of six future Wildcats from the Class of 2017, for our annual series of profiles on Kentucky’s basketball signees. But after a month-long failure to establish any form of contact with Richards, his coaches or anyone from The Patrick School administration, getting a moment to speak with Richards was very unlikely.

Piling on to my improbable odds was the fact that the Shootout’s director, who did respond to my third e-mail, told me to buy a general admission ticket when I asked about media availability; and Richards was coming off a two-game suspension for fighting in a game the previous weekend.

Needless to say, I had very low expectations for my trip to the Garden State, but, you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take, they say. (And it’s not like I was going on my own dime.)


cal-barbee

The talent level at this year’s Primetime Shootout was absolutely insane as it featured several of the top players in high school basketball, which explains why John Calipari and Tony Barbee were in attendance for the night session, 24 hours after coaching Kentucky to a win down in Alabama.

A young man by the name of Nazreon Reid was the star of the first game Calipari and Barbee took in, the fifth game of the day at the invitational, between Roselle Catholic and Montclair Immaculate.

Reid is a five-star power forward in the Class of 2018, ranked No. 14 overall in that class, and he was as dominant of a big man that I have seen in high school basketball, especially for only being a junior.

He finished with 36 points (26 of which came in the second half) and 18 rebounds in Roselle’s come-from-behind win on its own homecourt.

Remember that name: Nazreon “Naz” Reid.

naz

Richards v. Brown

The marquee one-on-one matchup at the shootout was also my reason for driving through a blizzard to be there: Nick Richards of The Patrick School in the primetime game against Moses Brown of Archbishop Molloy out of Queens.

Brown is the No. 1 center in the Class of 2018 and he already holds offers from Kansas, Arizona, Louisville, UCLA, Florida and Maryland, among others. Duke and Kentucky are also very interested in Brown, although neither school has extended a scholarship offer just yet, and several other schools were in the building that night to watch him play.

Richards, on the other hand, had little to prove as he already knows where he will play his college ball, but he and his TPS teammates, six of whom have already signed with Division 1 schools, were out to win the final game of their regular season.

For a team as loaded as the first-ranked Shamrocks, the expectation is to win every game and anything short of the New Jersey Tournament of Champions championship is a failure.

richards-brown

As my luck would have it, Richards found himself in early foul trouble and he spent the majority of the first half on the bench. While I enjoyed watching his teammates and the sideline antics of his head coach, Mike Rice, formerly of the Rutgers abuse scandal, I did not travel to New Jersey to watch Richards sit on the pine.

At least one fan at Roselle Catholic shared my disappointment in Richards’ minutes. I heard someone yell, in a perfect New Jersey accent, “His coach didn’t come here to see him on the bench! Put him in!”

richards-bench

Richards would come back in with two fouls to start the second half, only to commit more fouls and eventually foul out of the game.

He finished with eight points and 11 rebounds in limited minutes in TPS’s 73-59 victory.

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However, in the action I did see, Richards’ athleticism was very impressive. I don’t know how suited his game is for the college level with what little I saw that night, but the seven-footer can definitely move and explode for someone of that size.

richards-dunk2

He showed off some passing ability, too:

pass-richards

The ESPN scouting report on him reads, “Richards is a high major center with great size and mobility. He is a big time finisher, rebounder and good scorer in and around the lane with excellent upside. His improvement has been steady each and every season. If he continues this ascension, his future is quite bright.”

I don’t disagree.

A man of very few words

After the game, I followed Adam Zagoria into the Shamrocks’ locker room in hopes of getting my conversation with Richards. With a little help from Zagoria and others in the media, I was able to pull Richards aside for a brief chat about his game and his future as a Wildcat.

richards-interview

He told me he was happy Coach Cal came out to watch him play on that particular night, but he doesn’t really pay attention to when his future coach is in the building. He also hasn’t spoken to Cal a lot recently, he said, because his focus is on finishing his high school season and “getting better everyday,” as Cal has encouraged him to do.

When I asked if he has spoken to any of Calipari’s big men, past or present, he told me, “I talk to Wenyen [Gabriel] sometimes. Wenyen, that’s probably it.”

Richards has also been in contact with Hamidou Diallo, a fellow Wildcat signee who enrolled early in the spring semester at Kentucky to get a head start on next season.

“I talk to Hamidou every now and then. He likes the campus life and he likes it down there.”

As for moving to Lexington in a couple of months, Richards said, “I’m excited to get ready for school, workouts and getting ready for the season — just trying to be the best player I can be.”

Blue got in

It is worth noting that several Kentucky fans from around the area made the trip to see Richards play at Roselle Catholic, the former high school of one Isaiah Briscoe.

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David Tulloch and his son, Ian, were impressed by Richards’ defense (although I think Ian was more excited to meet Coach Cal.)

I saw plenty of other members of the Big Blue Nation scattered across the gym as well, whenever they weren’t crowded around Calipari.

All in all, it was fun evening full of exciting high school basketball in a part of the country I had never seen. It would’ve been nice to see a little bit more of Richards on the floor, but luckily he’ll be in Lexington soon enough.

And I think you’re going to like him, BBN.

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

14 responses to “A Night in Jersey: Future Wildcat fouls out in front of Calipari, KSR”

  1. Luether

    Nice post, Drew!

    1. UK Big Board Update

      Troll is ass kissing. Solid tactic.

    2. AGSlater

      This guy is truly miserable. I have never seen him have his own input on any topic what so ever. He gets on message boards just to see if anyone has posted any kind of negativity in any way possible. The homer is beyond being a homer it is sad. Please board have some input. I wont judge you like you do others.

    3. UK Big Board Update

      AGSlater February 15, 2017 at 4:36 pm | Permalink | Reply
      Like It (0)
      Laugh out loud at this. We have played poorly at times. Now everyone say I am negtiven This is a fair statement. We are playing better, but it wong be suprising to go 1 and done. You mad Bros?

      AGSlater July 18, 2016 at 8:59 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      Duke has been getting every player they want even over UK.

      AGSlater April 6, 2016 at 1:28 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      Damn. They are stacked. Could go 40-0. Not a Duke fan whatsoever just being real

      AGSlater January 18, 2016 at 4:34 pm | Permalink
      Like It (1)
      When do they release NIT bracketology? That’s where this team is headed

      AGSlater January 18, 2016 at 4:29 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      Not if, but when they lose to Arkansas they will be out of Top 25 for good. We don’t need to worry about rankings. Need to worry about missing tournament.

      AGSlater February 12, 2016 at 5:09 pm | Permalink
      Like It (1)
      I think they will have 9-10 losses before selection day and be a 7-10 seed. No im not a Cards fan. Our resume is poor. 3-4 really bad losses and 1 decent victory. If more teams keep losing 5-6.

      AGSlater May 20, 2016 at 4:18 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      Our football program stinks and will always stink. Who would want to play for us? It gets old that kids say the school they decommit from is a top their list. Just shut up and say I will NOT be going to UK

      AGSlater September 19, 2016 at 5:31 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      Here is a stat- we suck

      ag slater December 1, 2013 at 4:28 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      Here comes another 2-10 season everyone. I predict 3 straight seasons without an sec win. Next years team may even be worse than this team. Everyone thinks barker is the golden child savior. Hilarious

      ag slater November 23, 2013 at 9:17 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      We suck so bad in football I really forgot that we were even playing a game at all until about 9. We are pathetic in every way possible.From the coaching to the players this football program is pathetic. Can we just take football away from the university It is pointless to play. The only thing our football program is good at is making a bad name for the university and making any team look awesome, How sad is it when your team cannot even win a conference game in 2 seasons. Absolute joke. laughing stock of all of football

    4. UK Big Board Update

      AG…. c’mon man, just stop. Everyone on here knows Luether is a troll. And I’m going to continue to call him out on it. You mad bros? 😉

    5. AGSlater

      Troll is overused and outdated. Come up with something else. You probably are too young to even remember trolls when they were popular

    6. AGSlater

      Its a message board. People can have their own opinions good or bad. You dont have to get on everyone for having an opposing opinion other to yours. Atleast its not a political debate it could be much worse. People are passionate about their cats and just need to vent. Doesnt mean they are idiots or bad people.

    7. UK Big Board Update

      I don’t have a problem with criticism. I have criticisms of the teams too. I only blast the obvious trolls.

      Or, in the rare occasion you have a ridiculously stupid opinion, I’ll call you on that too.

      If you notice, I only put a handful of the same people here on blast. They know who they are, and they hate me. Fine. Don’t care. At all. I think you might be in that group now, but lets remember: you said the hater shit on here, not me.

      And Luether is an obvious UL troll. You didn’t see his comments leading up to and after the football game. I’ve seen his comments regarding Cal, his son, his wife, etc.

    8. UK Big Board Update

      Here’s a quick example:

      RE: Brad Calipari’s tattoo….

      Luether December 12, 2016 at 7:37 pm | Permalink
      Like It (0)
      Just a punk move by Cal Jr…

  2. Rick_S

    I’ve seen Richards several times..I don’t see a great player..reminds me of a more athletic DJ

    1. UK Big Board Update

      Thanks, coach…

    2. WeareBBN

      Actually a more athletic DJ, if you are talking Dakari, would be pretty dang good. Concerned about his suspension for fighting, is it an attitude problem or a bad reaction?

  3. keiths

    I have watched Richards play 6 times over the last two seasons. He has fouled out of or been in bad foul trouble all 6 times. Take it for what its worth….

    1. gright

      At least we know he shouldn’t shy away from contact.