Nick Richards’ basketball journey will now enter its professional stage, as the junior announced he’s entering the NBA Draft on Tuesday.
The former five-star recruit endured significant growing pains during his first two years in Lexington, but he never stopped working hard to become the player we saw this past season, one who was an All-SEC selection who helped carry Kentucky to 25 wins and an SEC title.
Richards’ story of perseverance has been one of the best stories of the John Calipari era, and the Kentucky head coach agrees.
“Of all the kids that we’ve coached who have elevated and benefited from the culture we’ve built here, I would say Nick is at the top of the list,” Calipari said in a press release. “Nick’s ability to self-evaluate and block out the clutter for the last three seasons has shown incredible maturity. To be able to look inward and say, ‘I need more time and I wouldn’t trade this time at Kentucky for anything in the world,’ says a lot about Nick.
“What Nick has been able to do with his body, his mind and mastering his skills, it’s been incredible and rewarding to watch as a coach. It’s been a pleasure to see him grow into the player and the young man he has become, and he’s done it all because of his hard work and his dedication. It has all paid off.
“Nick will leave here as a fan favorite and deservedly so because of the way he’s handled himself both on and off the court. He’s become the best version of himself and I couldn’t be happier for him.”
As of now, Richards is being projected in the mid-to-late second-round range of the 2020 NBA Draft. If that’s where he goes, someone is getting a steal, as Richards still has the potential to keep improving and possibly become a starting-caliber big man in the NBA.