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Kenny Payne says UK only getting 50 percent of Nick Richards’ potential

Nick Richards has wildly unique size and athleticism, unlike anyone across college basketball, yet he still hasn’t become a dominant post presence for Kentucky. We see flashes of how he can change a game, but it is far from consistent, and more often than not, the bad will outweigh the good.

Take the Kansas game for example. He came off the bench and blocked five shots, but was pulled for getting out-rebounded by a much smaller Kansas frontcourt. He played only nine minutes the entire game, simply because Kentucky needed to win the glass to win the game, Calipari said afterward.

Calipari wants Richards to match Reid Travis’ intensity. In Kenny Payne’s words, “When you watch Reid Travis fight for rebounds, fight for offensive rebounds, play with a physicality to the game, and then you watch Nick, who at times does it, but at other times he gets fatigued and he lets go. Then (he’s) coming out.”

But Richards does have some dog in him, Payne noted, and the sophomore big man needs to let that dog out. Payne said, “Nick Richards is a unique basketball player in a time where there’s not many seven-footers that can change shots around the basket. We need that from him. He has a lot more than his size, a lot more. We’re probably seeing 50 percent of him. We want 110 percent of him.”

Once Kentucky does start getting more of Richards and his inner-dog, the sky is the limit.

If he can figure it out, every NBA organization will want Nick Richards,” said Payne. “He’ll be playing this game for a long time. That’s the goal. That’s why you come here – to be put in situations that are hard. If you’re at another program, they stick you under the basket and you never come out. We’re trying to say, ‘OK, you can block this shot and guard a point guard out on the perimeter.’”

“We’re asking a lot from a 7-footer that’s a sophomore in college,” he added, “but with what his tools are athletically, why not?”

Article written by Drew Franklin

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

13 Comments for Kenny Payne says UK only getting 50 percent of Nick Richards’ potential



  1. RealCatsFan
    5:03 pm January 28, 2019 Permalink

    Thought I had read that Nick has only been playing BB for a few years in high school as well. He has tremendous upside – just needs to channel his inner WCS and become a beast on defense and rebounding.



    • ibescootch
      5:24 pm January 28, 2019 Permalink

      WCS is the closest to how I see Nick as well. A little awkward at his age, and doesn’t really know what he’s consistently capable of. He’s not a natural player either, so he still thinks too much. I think another year at Kentucky will help him immensely.



    • BBNBRIAN
      7:15 pm January 28, 2019 Permalink

      My thoughts exactly. Did you know WCS played wide receiver in high school…? (/sarcasm) Junior Nick Richards would be a huge piece of the puzzle for us next year.



  2. mikeintn
    5:13 pm January 28, 2019 Permalink

    You will never get 110 percent KP, no one can give more then 100 percent.



  3. Based God
    5:35 pm January 28, 2019 Permalink

    We only see 50% because that’s all he gives. He’ll go all out for a block and then stand there and watch three guys that are four or five inches shorter than him battle for the rebound. He transitons from player to spectator way too easily. He’s got potential to be at least as good as WCS if he just had the confidence and gave the effort.



    • katmandue2you
      9:02 pm January 28, 2019 Permalink

      BigolBlue your sure your real name isn’t BendoverBoyfriend?



  4. michaelb
    6:21 pm January 28, 2019 Permalink

    To make the next step : all he needs is a hair cut – Look at what happens when Shai, Ashton and others get the buzz cut …boom!!! They become successful . Lol



    • Matt10
      9:11 pm January 28, 2019 Permalink

      I agree! Let the bird nest go! Haha.



  5. BluemanGreen
    6:24 pm January 28, 2019 Permalink

    Maybe play him more than 9 minutes. He had more blocks than anybody in the game in 9 freaking minutes! Give the guy 20 mins what will he do block 10 shots??



    • Aar
      11:03 pm January 28, 2019 Permalink

      As much as I tend to agree with this, it just doesn’t play out that way. Either fatigue or pacing take away the performance with additional time. We’ve seen him succeed at each facet of the game. Just never all facets at the same time. I’d love to see him give us 2-3 minutes of his best in all facets. Once he can consistently do that, he can repeat it later in the same game. Before long he’s getting close to his potential.



  6. BigolBlue
    6:54 pm January 28, 2019 Permalink

    I chuckled at this headline. Just like EJ is good and can shoot a clean jumper



    • bigbluebanana
      7:53 pm January 28, 2019 Permalink

      EJ has a great looking jumper. It’s hard to make it consistent with one or two shots per game.