It’s fair to say Nick Richards hasn’t lived up to his hype and potential in his freshman season. For a young man with Richards’ size and athleticism, he should be the most dominant player in the paint each and every game. Jarred Vanderbilt shouldn’t be coming off the bench to grab more than twice as many rebounds per game as Richards in SEC play. Richards shouldn’t rank sixth on the team with 3.8 rebounds per game in league competition.
But Richards is sixth on the team with only 3.8 rebounds per game. With his size, that is a surprising (and sad) statistic. And the reason is Richards isn’t playing as hard as some of his teammates, namely Vanderbilt. If he would just play with the effort Vanderbilt brings in crashing the boards, Richards would be a lottery pick. John Calipari said so today in an exchange with a reporter at the pre-Florida press conference.
It went like this:
Calipari: “Look, here, I’ll ask you this question: If Nick played as hard as Jarred, what would he be?
Reporter: “Really good.”
Calipari: “He would be really good, but explain what would he be. What would you say he’d be really good?”
Reporter: “Rebounding, active.”
Calipari: “OK, and what would that mean for him personally?”
Reporter: “Lottery pick.”
Calipari: “Top-five pick. Lottery, top-five pick.”
Honestly, I can’t imagine a player of Richards’ size going with the energy of Vanderbilt. That guy would get 25 rebounds per game.
If only Richards would do just half that, Kentucky would be much better off.