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Kentucky Wildcats Morning Quickies: Nick Richards Edition

Nick Richards, from his season nadir against Ohio State on, has become a major college basketball force and demonstrated the value of patience.

Kentucky v Texas Tech Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, and welcome to the Tuesday Morning Quickies.

First of all, a brief word about Kobe Bryant. When a sports celebrity passes away in a tragic accident, it always prompts a lot of talk, reflection and tribute. My big Kobe memory was the 2000 NBA championship. We were vacationing in Annapolis for the first time that year, and we watched every game of the Finals. We were pulling for the Lakers, more because Shaquille O’Neal than Kobe, but I remember being struck by how good he was.

May he, his daughter Gigi, and all those lost in the helicopter accident rest in peace. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the survivors.

Secondly, about Nick Richards. I worried about him a lot early in the season. His performances against weak teams was often very good, but almost without exception, the stronger teams got, the worse Nick performed. To be fair, many of those performances were driven by foul trouble, but that foul trouble was caused mostly by Nick either tiring too easily or settling for a reach rather than moving his feet.

That all changed with the Louisville game, where Richards was splended. He’s pretty much had an offensive rating in the low to mid triple-digits ever since, and his rebounding has been mostly what we’d expect for a player with his physical gifts.

Richards has done exactly what highly-ranked players from Terrence Jones to PJ Washington have done at Kentucky when they didn’t stand out early in their careers — come back and play their way into a high draft pick. Absent an injury or collapse, that’s what Nick has done as well. In the process, these players have proved the value of patience, even in today’s college basketball.

There are never enough 6-11 guys with stellar athleticism and a soft shooting touch for NBA GM’s available in the draft, I promise you that.

Well done, Nick.

Tweet of the Morning

Touching tribute by UConn women’s basketball. Well done.

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