Now, they’re easily one of the University of Kentucky’s most well-known power couples. A few years ago, they were two UK student athletes who met at a party. In the years since, Nick Richards and Leah Edmond have grown on and off their respective courts, and they’ve become fan favorites along the way.
Edmond spent four years on the volleyball team at UK, where she just graduated with a degree in elementary education and signed her name all over the program’s record books. Richards spent three years in Lexington – an eternity for a former McDonald’s All-American playing under John Calipari at Kentucky. For two people who were constantly busy with practices, games and travel, life has slowed down considerably for the pair since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down sports.
These days, they’re practicing social distancing, staying active and spending plenty of time with their dog, Luna. In their free time, they caught up with KSR. Throughout the conversation, the couple reflects on their time at UK and the bittersweet ending, talks about what it’s like to run into the BBN during date night and debates their most-heated question: who’s really the better athlete?
The full conversation is available here:
Richards also reflects on the day the basketball team realized their season was over, calling it “the saddest moment” of his basketball career. He vividly remembers the day the sports world came to a screeching halt.
“We were on the basketball court practicing, getting ready for the SEC Tournament. [John Calipari] stopped us in the middle of the practice and says they just cancelled our tournament,” Richards remembers. “Two hours later, we were on the bus heading back to Lexington. We’re all sleeping, and Cal wakes us all up and tells us our season is over. Honestly, that was probably one of the saddest moments in my basketball career.”
From there, Richards details “one of the most intense games” of pickup he’s ever played before his teammates began heading their own ways. Then, they all had to make their own decisions regarding the future. For Richards, he knew he wouldn’t have to really make the decision on his own.
“Honestly I didn’t really even make that decision. My coaches made it for me,” Richards said of the choice to forgo his final year of collegiate eligibility. “They all told me I think it’s time for me to go; I think you’re ready for the NBA.”
Now, it’s up to him to put that readiness to the test. More than any other player I can remember from the Calipari era, Nick Richards underwent a serious and impressive transformation from the time he stepped onto campus until he left the program for the big league. A big part of that improvement came from his own confidence in himself, which came, in part, from Edmond’s support.
“You can say as much as you want to, but until he believes in himself, it’s not really going to help,” Edmond says. “Just being encouraging, trying not to be negative, just keeping positive when a game didn’t go the right way and trying to keep his head away from basketball sometimes was the best that I could do.”
Edmond also discusses her future (including the potential of playing overseas following a global pandemic) and her excitement regarding the volleyball team’s bright future – including how Coach Craig Skinner just brought in the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation.
Later in the interview, both former Cats discuss their next steps, how Coronavirus is affecting their future, what they’ll miss the most about Lexington and their parting thoughts for the BBN.
Check it out!