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Nick Richards expects himself to be the “best big man in the country”

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If he even comes close, Kentucky has to be the title favorite.

Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

He was a McDonald’s All-American. Nick Richards was a top 20 recruit in 2017. He had an NBA-ready frame when he arrived in Lexington that summer. But here we are, two years later, watching him prepare for his junior year.

Richards’ high school coach, Mike Rice, believes spending another year in college is exactly what Nick needs.

“I think it’s the best thing to ever happen to Nick Richards,” Rice told the Herald-Leader. “He has the base now. He has instincts now. He’s been through three years of some of the best coaching in college basketball.”

The 6-11 Richards has only been playing basketball for six years at this point. He picked up the game just a few months before Aaron Harrison led Kentucky to the 2014 Final Four in awesomely dramatic fashion. That was not that long ago, if you think about it.

Richards has high expectations for himself this season. After a disappointing freshman campaign and what seemed like a decline throughout last season, John Calipari was clear with Richards going into this year that the bar is going to be high on what the coach wants to see.

“If I’m not the best big man in the country, I’ll see myself as a disappointment,” Richards said to the Herald-Leader.

That is certainly a lofty goal, considering the fact that he was third option on last year’s team and only averaged a few minutes per game during the national tournament. But there are also very few 6-11 guys out there that can move like he can.

If Richards is able to play with high energy (and catch the basketball), his ceiling is as high as any big man in the country. But will his development speed up to a pace to where fans can expect that? The wait will not be very long, as the season opener is less than six weeks away.

Check out the entire piece from the Herald-Leader here for more quotes from Richards and Coach Rice.