The big man that most of us were focused on during the late 2017 recruiting period was Mohamed Bamba. Many believe that he is a top three pick in the 2018 draft and that he will be a star in college. When he opted for the Texas Longhorns and Shaka Smart over the Kentucky Wildcats and John Calipari, many fans were upset.
Most forgot or didn’t acknowledge that the ‘Cats already had a talented five-star 240 pound seven-footer on the team in Nick Richards.
But that’s OK because we as we learned on Coachcal.com, Richards is used to people doubting him:
“That’s one of the reasons I play basketball right now,” Richards said. “People told me I couldn’t do anything with it. People told me I was going to be a D-3 player when I was a freshman. Now I’m at Kentucky.”
Richards revealed in the profile that he was late in his development as a basketball player. He was focused on, of all things, skateboarding. But because of his size he started playing basketball until he was a teenager.
It was a good choice because Richards became a five-star recruit ranked in the top 20 of all the major recruiting services. He’s a McDonald’s All-American and played in the Jordan Brand Classic. He’s also projected as a first round draft pick for 2018.
He’s exactly the type of player that Calipari has been missing for the past two seasons: a rim protector with an already advanced defensive presence with an emphasis on rebounding. Kentucky fans haven’t seen a big man like that since Willie Cauley-Stein.
But while Richards has all the tools to be a big time defender right now, he will be able to do damage on offense. Take this for instance, also from Coachcal.com:
At Kentucky, Richards’ offensive and defensive games will both have opportunities to flourish thanks to the other players’ versatility and position-less nature.
Offensively, the quartet of Wenyen Gabriel, Kevin Knox, PJ Washington and Jarred Vanderbilt will stretch defenses, giving Richards more one-on-one matchups. On the other side, Richards’ ability to block shots and defend the paint allow all the Wildcats to be a bit more aggressive defensively around the perimeter.
As Richards continues to develop in Lexington, it won’t be long before the Big Blue Nation will be saying, “Mohamed who?”