Nick Richards has experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows since the BBN learned his name.
He was introduced to Kentucky fans as a raw, 6’11” McDonald’s All-American that was considered the second-best center in his class. Once he got to campus, he did not look like the second-best center in America. After struggling for two years, Richards was relegated to the bench. Now in year three, Kentucky fans get nervous when foul trouble forces him to the bench.
Jeff Goodman was in Lubbock for Richards’ best performance to date, recording 25 points, 14 rebounds and 4 blocks, a stat line the BBN has not seen since Anthony Davis wore a blue and white No. 23. Goodman, now with Watch Stadium, detailed Richards’ remarkable journey to that point in his career, one that started under the instruction of controversial former Rutgers coach Mike Rice.
“You’d take Nick out of the game, he shakes everyone’s hands and then asks me, ‘What do I need to do better?’” said Mike Rice, the controversial former Rutgers head coach who worked with Richards for a couple years in high school back in New Jersey. “All the other five-star guys would come out the game and ask me why the heck I took them out.”
“Nick doesn’t really have that swagger, that overconfidence,” Rice added. “He’s grounded, he’s nice, he’s thoughtful. He’s probably too nice.”
Being “too nice,” wasn’t the reason why Richards struggled right away at UK, but he did need to discover confidence in his abilities. He began to find it while working out with NBA teams ahead of his junior season, thanks to advice from P.J. Washington. Now playing better than ever before, Richards only has one more goal.
“My goal was always to come in here and win a national championship,” Richards said. “Me having all these numbers doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t result in a national title.”