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“Kentucky is probably going to win the national championship” if Nick Richards keeps playing like this

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Word.

Greg Goins - Sea of Blue

Nick Richards has been a missing piece that Kentucky has needed during his time in Lexington.

The 6’11” junior is full of potential, and has been since he first stepped on campus, but he’s never been able to truly put it all together. We’re two games into his third campaign as a Wildcat, though, and it seems like Richards is solving the puzzle.

Anything Richards gave against Michigan State was going to be a plus since his availability was in question all the way leading up to the game. He gave a solid performance in 25 minutes of action with 7 points and 4 rebounds while his impact on the defensive end was what really had a buzz going.

Against EKU, though, Nick looked like the dominant player Kentucky fans have been waiting for. Richards led the Wildcats to a 42-point victory with an impressive double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds in 31 minutes. He blocked 4 shots and shot 90.9% from the field as well. Richards obviously improved his game over the offseason, but the biggest difference tonight was the shining confidence in his ability that made him look like a completely different player on both sides of the ball.

Eastern Kentucky head coach AW Hamilton spoke on Richards’ performance after the game and called him “a superstar”.

“If (Nick Richards) plays like that, Kentucky is probably going to win the national championship,” said Hamilton.

That is incredibly high praise, but it’s not an unrealistic comment whatsoever. Had Kentucky had anywhere close to what we saw from Nick Richards tonight during the last two seasons, there’s no telling where those teams could have finished. You can’t change the past, but Nick’s play could very well alter the Wildcat’s future. If this is who Richards is during the 2019-2020 season, the Wildcats immediately become more of a, if not the, title favorite.

It’s only the second game of the season and he likely benefited from the absence of EJ Montgomery, but Nick Richards gave Kentucky fans something to believe in tonight. He may not even be a 20 & 10 player every night and that’s fine. What matters is that Nick now seemingly has the capability and confidence to make an impact both offensively and defensively, and that may very well lead this Kentucky team to accomplishing some very special things.