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Calipari on Nick Richards: ‘The expectation is it’s his time’

(Photo: Elliott Hess/UK Athletics)

(Photo: Elliott Hess/UK Athletics)

It is rare for a five-star high school talent to stick around the University of Kentucky’s basketball program for more than a year. Last season, P.J. Washington made the difficult decision to come back for a sophomore campaign, and his return for another run catapulted him into the NBA Draft lottery. This year, three other former five-star prospects — Ashton Hagans, E.J. Montgomery and Immanuel Quickley — hope to follow Washington’s two-year path from UK to the league.

But three years at UK for a former five-star, McDonald’s All-American? That is extremely rare under John Calipari’s watch. Only Alex Poythress and Marcus Lee made it from burger boy to a third season in Lexington — that is, until now.

Nick Richards, once the No. 2 high school center in the country and a 2017 McDonald’s All-American, will soon be announced on stage at his third Big Blue Madness. Richards is one of only three big men on Kentucky’s 2019-20 roster and the most experienced player in the locker room, so the pressure is on for him to perform in his junior season.

Obviously, the expectation is this is his time,” Calipari said of his veteran big man, when asked where Richards stands entering Year 3.

“Right now he’s really playing well and he’s playing confident,” Calipari added. “He played against two mooses (that’s not a word, Cal) last year. They could take your confidence away. But he, right now, what he’s doing on the court and how he’s playing, whether he goes against E.J. [Montgomery], whether he goes against Nate [Sestina], scoring around the basket, shooting the ball better, running, he’s in the best shape I’ve seen him in.”

Confidence has always been the key to Richards’ success. Last month during another preseason basketball Q&A, Calipari spoke at length about Richards finding his confidence and how it is so crucial to how well he plays. It seems like Richards is on his way right now, however, we won’t know until he shows some fight in an actual game.

“You got to get on the court, and now you’re playing against a player that’s a football player that’s trying to just say, ‘I know I can’t play you, I’m going to try to rough you up.’ Can you hold your ground?” Calipari wondered. “Can you sustain your confidence in that kind of situation? Until we start playing games, who will know? Now, my hope is he’s ready for it. He’s been here, has a smile on his face, he’s a beautiful kid, he’s one of the nicest people we have had here. There’s no one rooting for him more than me.”

Actually, Cal, I know one person rooting for Nick Richards more than you… because it’s me. And I am ready for Big Nick Energy in 2019-20.

But is Nick ready?

We’ll know soon.

Article written by Drew Franklin

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

24 Comments for Calipari on Nick Richards: ‘The expectation is it’s his time’

  1. syrin23
    8:04 pm October 1, 2019 Permalink

    We have heard this before. Not going to believe it until we see him play against as real team.

  2. JustIce95
    8:09 pm October 1, 2019 Permalink

    “Big Nick Energy” that is hilarious. Definitely going to use that all year

    • IrishCat
      8:16 am October 2, 2019 Permalink


  3. channell
    8:24 pm October 1, 2019 Permalink

    Nick is a huge man with talent but not mean enough. Some red meat and gunpowder could help in that department. It’s his career to lose.

  4. dave1964
    8:26 pm October 1, 2019 Permalink

    Nick could be here four more years and still stink.

    • TonyMontana
      8:29 pm October 1, 2019 Permalink

      Or he could have a breakout year and break the single season blocks record. OK, probably not gonna happen but Willie Cauley-Stein had his breakout season his Junior year getting named SEC Defensive Player of the Year and All-SEC. I’d love to see Nick get more aggressive and confident out there. After missing out on Wiseman, Vernon Carey, etc… this lets Nick control his own destiny. I feel he can be a lot better than what we have seen. Fingers crossed.

    • UKBigBlueForever
      10:10 pm October 1, 2019 Permalink

      dave1964 you are so pessimistic it’s ridiculous. It’s f****ng embarassing actually. Do you live just to come here and make negative comments?

    • ClutchCargo
      12:48 am October 2, 2019 Permalink

      Not how I would say it, but dave1964 has a point. The only thing Nick lacks is that competitive streak. I’m not sure if that can be developed, but if so, he could become a beast.

    • J-Dub421
      9:21 am October 2, 2019 Permalink

      Sorry you have such a small penis, Dave.

    • 4everUKblue
      9:21 am October 2, 2019 Permalink

      It’s not so much what dave said as it is how he said it.

  5. zoupman
    9:08 pm October 1, 2019 Permalink

    Pulling for you Nick.

  6. Hot Stuff Eddie Gilbert
    9:13 pm October 1, 2019 Permalink

    The fact that Cal went after about 5 other centers tells you all you need to know about what Cal thinks of Nick. Had he landed one of them, Nick would be a bench jockey this year.

  7. ColoradoCatFan88
    9:23 pm October 1, 2019 Permalink

    If it doesn’t “click” for Nick this season, we are in trouble. We really need him to average 8-10 points & 8-10 rebounds a game with as many minutes as he will be getting.

  8. lindamyers56
    10:08 pm October 1, 2019 Permalink

    Willie did.

    • Peas and Carrots
      7:08 am October 2, 2019 Permalink


  9. DelrayCat
    10:46 pm October 1, 2019 Permalink

    Nick Richards will lead the country in shots block per minute played… Watch. He will have a big year for Kentucky no matter how much he plays.

  10. CrystalBall
    10:59 pm October 1, 2019 Permalink

    My question is: What did he do in high school to get a 5-star rating? Has never looked like a player who deserved it. Not in college.

  11. scottg74
    11:33 pm October 1, 2019 Permalink

    You have 5 fouls, use them!

  12. Aar
    4:50 am October 2, 2019 Permalink

    Richards is the key to this team’s ceiling. If he’s locking down the paint for 30+/game, Montgomery and Sestina are stretch 4s. Otherwise, it’s small ball. Love the talent on this team but gotta have a wide body in the paint to maximize it.

    I think he’s got what it takes and am pulling for him. If he has a breakout Champion’s Classic, watch out! That confidence will be where BBN needs it.

  13. 4everUKblue
    9:24 am October 2, 2019 Permalink

    I am hopeful for Nick. Can we just stop with all the negative comments and give this young man another chance? He’s a good young man and deserves some respect.

    • CrystalBall
      12:19 pm October 2, 2019 Permalink

      4ever. I am also hopeful for Nick. Just would like for him to have a good year. He is an important part of this team.

  14. KYjellyRoll
    12:56 pm October 2, 2019 Permalink

    Love this kid since he arrived I’m hoping for a double double average from him or Montgomery. Time will tell if he can make it at UK or not

  15. dave1964
    1:17 pm October 2, 2019 Permalink

    UKBigBlueForever sorry if it offends you that I don’t use nice words or small talk and only state facts but spending 14 years in the USMC tends to do that to you I will try and use nice words so your not offended. But in the mean time report to your corner with coloring book in hand.

  16. dave1964
    1:31 pm October 2, 2019 Permalink

    Cal said the very same thing last year about him look her is a good guy and all but you can’t teach heart he has brick hands will foul out before half time and give you a few rebounds and maybe six to eight points, where as he should get 12 to 15 rebounds a game and ten points a night and using plain language just not very good and it is what it is but if anyone is going to hang a hat on UK having a good season depending on what Nick does we are screwed.