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Nick Richards Recruiting Update and Final Predictions

Nick Richards is poised to be UK’s first commitment of 2017.

Jon Lopez/Position Sports

Five-star center Nick Richards will likely sign with the Kentucky Wildcats on Thursday, giving UK their first pledge of the 2017 class.

Richards, who hails from Manhasset (NY) by way of St. Patrick high School, is rated as a top-20 prospect in every recruiting service. His lowest ranking is 19th overall by Rivals.com, and his highest is 12th by ESPN.

The latter is close to where Richards should end up in the final 2017 rankings when they’re released in the spring. He’s easily one of the best big men in this class and someone who could be a game-changer as a college freshman.

As for where he’ll end up, UK has been the heavy favorite for awhile now, as evidenced by his 247 Crystal Ball:

The current plan is for Richards to announce his decision at St. Patrick around 2 p.m. EST. If there is a live stream of the ceremony, we will post it on the site.

Until then, we gathered our staff for some final thoughts and predictions on Richards.

Zac Oakes

I've thought for a long time that Nick Richards will be playing in Lexington next year and I still believe that. I ultimately think he will end up picking the 'Cats. Richards will provide a lot of value as a rebounder and defender in the paint, while hopefully seeing improvements in his offensive game.

I think Richards has been a guy Calipari has wanted, because it seems like the best teams usually have a guy or two that play the role of a strong defender and rebounder who isn't too worried about putting a ton of points on the board. Richards is that guy for Kentucky, and I expect to see him opt to play for the Blue and White on Thursday.

Justin Hodge

I personally have a bad feeling about Nick Richards. John Calipari has been all in on the Jersey kid for a long time now, but something about the hometown feel that Syracuse offers him causes doubt.

With Kentucky wanting Mohamed Bamba as well, not to mention Sacha Killeya-Jones and Isaac Humphries being back next year, Richards may not feel as good about joining a potentially stacked big man group. Everyone is picking UK, but I won’t be surprised if Richards commits to the Orange.

Jeremy Chisenhall

I have Richards going to Kentucky. He's heavily favored to do so in the predictions, and he'd provide a great defensive and inside presence for the Cats.

Richards isn't a big that will stretch the floor, but he thrives in the paint. He can work some post moves and he can finish at the rim on offense. Defensively, he's able to protect the rim and send back his fair share of shots. He'd be a good replacement for Bam Adebayo, should he leave. If he can work on a shot outside of the paint, he'd be a more versatile Adebayo.

Jason Marcum

I believe Nick Richards has the potential to end up being UK’s best recruit in this class. He may be ranked in the 14-19 range now, but look for him to finish in the top 10 when the final rankings come out in the spring.

That’s the kind of talent he has, and that’s why UK has made him such big a priority in this class.

Richards is one of the rare true centers that has the potential to be a monster in the paint in college. We haven’t seen UK land a lot of true elite centers under John Calipari, but Richards will almost certainly be one.

Expect UK to be the pick here. Anything else would be one of, if not the biggest surprise of the 2017 class. Syracuse put up a great fight to try and sway Richards away, but he’s had his eyes set on UK for awhile now.

On Thursday, Richards becomes the first signee of UK’s 2017 class, and when it’s all said and done, may end up being the highest-ranked player the Cats get in this class.

At ESPN, Jeff Borzello and Adam Finkelstein made their picks for the top recruits, and UK came out on top for Richards:

Nick Richards, 6-11, C, The Patrick School (New Jersey), ESPN 100: 12

Prediction: Kentucky

Other Contenders: Arizona and Syracuse

This one looks like a virtual sure thing for Kentucky at this point. They've been considered the leader for several months now, Richards has been on their campus on two different occasions this fall and cancelled a visit he had scheduled to Arizona a few weeks ago. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist selling Richards on the virtues of playing for John Calipari doesn't hurt either.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for a full breakdown on Richards’ commitment, which by all indications will be to Kentucky.