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Nick Richards Announces Return to Kentucky for Junior Season

Nick Richards (Vicky Graff Photo)

By UK ATHLETICS

LEXINGTON, Ky. – After testing the NBA waters and going through the NBA Draft process for the first time in his career, Kentucky men’s basketball forward Nick Richards has decided to continue pursuing his collegiate goals while strengthening his future professional prospects.

The big man is coming back to UK for his junior season. The 6-foot-11 forward announced his return on social media on Tuesday. 

“First off, I want to thank God, the man up above, for without him I couldn’t do any of this,” Richards said. “Next, I want to thank my family: my mom, my aunt, my sister (and) my brothers. I want to thank my teammates and the coaching staff, for without them I wouldn’t be here. They pushed me in the right direction that I needed to be to where I am today.

“These past two years have been the best of my life. It’s been an incredible experience. I’ve learned a lot, but the job’s not done yet. BBN, are you ready for year three?”

Big Blue Nation will certainly be thrilled for the return of the most experienced Wildcat on the 2019-20 roster. Richards will join guards Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickly, Brad Calipari and forward/guard Zan Payne as returning players from the 2018-19 team.

Freshman forward EJ Montgomery, who like Richards was going through the NBA Draft evaluation process, has not yet made a decision. He has until 11:59 p.m. ET Wednesday to notify the NBA, via written statement, that he is withdrawing from the 2019 NBA Draft, as well as submit a written statement to UK that he plans to resume his college career. 

Underclassmen PJ Washington, Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson have already announced their intentions to stay in the NBA Draft. Additionally, forward Reid Travis and walk-on guard Jonny David have exhausted their eligibility, and guard Jemarl Baker Jr. has transferred to Arizona.

Regardless of what Montgomery decides, the Wildcats are slated to lose their top four scorers, top four rebounders and top three 3-point shooters from the 2018-19 squad that went to the Elite Eight.

That’s where Richards’ returning experience and leadership will loom large.

Richards has appeared in all 74 games of his two-year career with the Wildcats, making 40 starts. He has averaged 4.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game to this point with a career field-goal percentage of 60.8 percent. He also makes free throws at a 70.4-percent clip.

The Kingston, Jamaica, native helped the Wildcats to a Southeastern Conference Tournament title as a freshman and an Elite Eight appearance in the NCAA Tournament as a sophomore.

“I was fully supportive of Nick going through the NBA Draft process for the first time in his career to see where he stood,” UK head coach John Caliapri said. “I’m happy with where Nick and his family ended up and I’m excited to continue to coach Nick because I know how special he can be. I’ve told him, ‘If you come back, I’m expecting you to be one of the best big men in the country.’ There is no reason he can’t be. There is nothing that Nick hasn’t seen at this point, and he knows what my expectations are for him in his junior season. I want him to dominate the game and affect it on every single possession.”

In 2018-19, Richards led the team in blocks with 47 and paced the team in swats in 16 games, including a career-high five blocked shots in the win over Kansas. He snared a career-high 19 rebounds in a win over Southern Illinois, matching the entire SIU squad’s total for the game. The 19 boards also equaled Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for the most in a game under Calipari.

Richards also scored 10 points in a win over Winthrop and posted 14 on the road at Vanderbilt.

For his career, Richards has charted nine double-figure scoring efforts and three double-figure rebounding games. He’s led the team in rebounding in 12 games and 28 games in blocks. Over two seasons, he has logged three or more blocks in a game on 12 occasions.

Richards will have plenty of help next season with the returning backcourt of Hagans and Quickley, the No. 2 ranked signing class (which includes guard Dontaie Allen, forward Keion Brooks, walk-on forward Brennan Canada, guard Johnny Juzang, guard Tyrese Maxey and forward Kahlil Whitney), plus Bucknell graduate transfer Nate Sestina, but none of them possess Richards’ length (7-foot-5 wingspan) or size (6-11, 244 pounds).

 

34 comments

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  1. Nick made the right decision. Hopefully he will get more PT as a junior. He still has a ways to go, but he has the physical tools to thrive. If his basketball IQ catches up with his physical tools, he will be a difference maker for us. I think he will benefit from coming back his senior year as well. if Cal can coach him up to being a lottery pick then, that will do wonders for the recruiting of bigs here.

  2. Yawn

  3. I’m glad to hear this. Nick is one of my favorites because I see a lot of potential. He just need time on the court because he has not been playing ball nearly as long as most kids his age.

  4. OF….that lack of experience is very tired and worn out. Do you realize how many 100’s of practices he has been thru in 2 years surrounded by some of the best talent and coaching in college BB.

    1. Why do you have to be so negative? People come to these sites to support their team and to enjoy talking about the future. If life is so bad for you, then look in the mirror to see a real a**hole! Other opinions are just as valid as yours and a lot more enjoyable. I just bet your family really enjoys having you around.

      1. It is in his DNA Ben27, makes him feel important. Him and his partner in “everything negative,” Catmandoo, just can’t be real UK fans, no way. No one is that negative about a school, especially one they say they attended, all the time about everything. Something just ain’t right.

        1. Sorry Pup….you try and be a Dr. Phil but zero credentials. You think you have it all figured out but are really so clueless in your own insecurity. You just can’t stand any truths at all, but you will have no choice. Stop tripping over your own ego.

          1. Don’t need any credentials to see a very negative person Mike, and you are certainly no UK fan, that is remarkably obvious. And I am very secure thank you, and have no ego. I just support UK sports, players and coaches. I kind of thought that’s what a real fan does, at least most of the time. I don’t have to constantly be critical of every coach, player and sport UK participates in to somehow make myself look important on this forum. Looks like to me Mike that others on this forum see you the same way as I do. The score is about six to two. I would also venture to say that almost all real die hard UK fans would find you a sad case of negative hot air. Oh, you are entitled to your negative opinions on this site, and we are entitled to strongly disagree, and do. You can dish out and say all sorts of bad things about players like Nick, and UK’s coaches, etc. but you can’t take it when the fire comes back your way. Chew on that awhile. Where is your buddy, he would probably agree with you. Take heart that you have at least one who believes all the crap you post on here, Chew on that awhile.

      2. Mike and his little buddy, Catmandoo, are our resident trolls.
        Their opinions are just that…OPINIONS and nothing more.

        I rather enjoy our internet kung fu matches.

        As for me, I hope they continue proving that morons are not confined to Duke, and N. Carolina. They’re everywhere…even here on this forum.

  5. Catmandoo and Mike get rea, l life is too short to be so negative. Nick will be fine and he will get the job done.

  6. Got reports that EJ is coming back.

  7. LP….You just continue to ramble on and on but really say very little. I do really enjoy all the time it takes for you to vent and post on the site. You may even be more negative than me and that is saying a lot..LOL..you still take this site to seriously and do stumble on your large ego. You are so insecure you even have to keep score. As Hornet said…these are just opinions here and if you can’t take any heat jump out. You make about as much sense as AOC. As Catmandoo said…it is OK to take off the pom poms. As I said….the cheer leading dept. is no longer accepting applications.

  8. Sounds like you are the insecure one Mike, you have come all unglued. Love to see you so challenged. You deserve it. Like I said, go for it, continue to show your true colors. Nobody can be as negative as you hoss. That is impossible. As much as you blast UK players and Coaches on this site all the time you must have been a star, right? Where did you obtain all this athletic prowess? Tell us all Mike. You never missed a shot, and always a double double, right? Why I bet you were a rel terror on the grid iron too. Tell us Mike.

  9. Sounds like you are the insecure one Mike, you have come all unglued. Love to see you so challenged. Makes my day. You deserve it. Like I said, go for it, continue to show your true colors. Nobody can be as negative as you hoss. That is impossible. As much as you blast UK players and Coaches on this site all the time you must have been a star, right? Where did you obtain all this athletic prowess? Tell us all Mike. You never missed a shot, and always a double double, right? Why I bet you were a real terror on the grid iron too. Tell us Mike.

    1. Pup…..you might want to consider some therapy. In addition to being insecure, I am diagnosing you as a very lonely person. There is no one on this site that posts more than you do and that one reinforcement ties in with your insecurity. The only score that you really need to keep is your 0 tolerance for anyone that doesn’t do the Rah Rah like you do or always agree with your biased thinking. Catmandoo really exposed you but it didn’t take me long to catch on. I suppose now you are going to try and convince me a good thing that EJ coming back. Not so fast my friend…..If he doesn’t contribute any more than he did last year it won’t be a good thing. We need a stud like Dante to round out this class. Go Cats!!

      1. Whatever Mike, I thought so on your playing days, complete silence. You are a real winner. You are real good at cutting down players and coaches and others who perform for UK everyday and just about every post. The Cheer leading, pom, pom, and Rah Rah analogy is sort of getting old, but that is all you got. Go for it Champ, I can take it. How does it feel Mike to get a dose of you own medicine? You fold like a day old newspaper. Tell us Mike. You must have been a star, right?

        1. Nice try Pup….I may fold a little but you do a total collapse. You won’t get the last word in every time like you attempt to do. You carry the Rah Rah label and it won’t be leaving anytime soon. Your bias does not carry all. Why don’t you try a new theme? Your constant attack mode continues to show your insecurity and loneliness…..love my Cats but can’t drink your constant kool aid.

          1. Complete silence huh Mike? I thought so. Hey, I am officially naming you “No fan Mike” that will be your new handle here on VV’s from my view. Here, let me pamper you a little since you are so sensitive to truth, hang in there, you have Catmandoo, alias “Dukemandoo” who is all in with your constant nonsense. At least that is something you can be proud of I guess. Try to get some rest, you sound a bit anemic.

            To the subject at hand, I am glad Nick and E.J. are back. UK looks strong for 2019-20. Of course our resident Trolls, and we all know who they are, will probably not agree with this assessment. “No Fan Mike” has already posted his displeasure concerning Nick Richards return. Sad for such a negative view against a potential UK great. Rah Rah Rah!! UK all the way!! Hip hip hooray!!! Did you like that “No Fan Mike?” Hurts don’t it?

            • Mike on May 30, 2019 at 11:34 am

            Pup….I am starting to feel a little sympathy for you because I feel you are a very demented, insecure, lonely individual. Were you bullied or abused as a child? You continue to be so immature while in attack mode but your view really doesn’t count. I am just thrilled that I have been able to get in your head like I have. As Clint has said…..you make my day!

          2. Hey “No Fan Mike” I think we all can see who is getting in somebody’s head here. Still silent Mike on you athletic prowess? We are waiting Mr. Star athlete. You criticize all UK’s players and coaches all the time, even when they win, and it gets old on a UK support site like this is supposed to be, generally. So some of us are just tired of it. So, we just want to know what your claim to fame is? Did you play HS ball, College, maybe coach little league, etc. What qualifies you to be every coach and player’s judge and jury?

        2. Can’t you find something more positive and fruitful to spend your psycho babble on? Have you tried reading lately or does that put too much of a strain or your limited brain matter? You had to have been bullied or abused as a child to be this insecure. Your delusions know no boundaries. I will be praying for you…LOL

          1. Wow Mike, all you can do is personally attack. Again, we are waiting patiently. What is your athletic story? What is your greatest athletic achievement since you have the gall to constantly attack UK players and coaches? You my man strike me as a coward. Maybe your not, but your silence on the subject I bring up is speaking volumes about you.

            Here is my story for the record, my high school football team won the state championship in 1961. I never saw the field as a player. I later went to EKU on a partial scholarship as a football manager under head coach Glen Presnell. I have coached Pop Warner football in Florida, and with men who played Div. 1 football at Florida, and at Troy Univ. I was never a great athlete, but I have been on the field when young men have given their all, and seen the sacrifice, and work needed to compete in a violent sport. The blood, sweat, tears, and joy in victory and in defeat. I was on the field with the trainers when a young back at EKU got his leg broken while running a sweep against the Univ of Tampa in 1962, his tibia bone sticking out of his flesh. The pain and agony, and the heart these athletes have. I tell you this because it strikes me that you have no concept of what these young men endure as an athlete on the field of battle, nor on the basketball floor. Try a little cheering on some instead of all the trite comments and criticism of players and coaches, who quite frankly are doing one hell of a job at UK. It is good therapy. You can poke fun at my story, but I never claimed to be anything on this site but a big fan of UK football. My time in the United States Marines, including my tour in Vietnam in 1964-65 taught me to never quit. These young athletes never quit in my view. As a fan we owe them respect and encouragement in their life’s endeavors since they give so much to us as fans of the sport. A team will play much better and achieve far better results when their fans love them even in defeat. There is a time to complain, but as for UK right now, especially in football and basketball, things are going real well. On On UK!!

        3. Pup…..I knew I could count on you for a response. You are a piece of work. I could not read your reply and too long and, I am sure, totally irrelevant. You insist on tripping on your ego. I am tickled that I have gotten into your head so bad that I now OWN you…ha.ha….or I mean Rah Rah….you are now my B….not really too proud to have to announce that though.

          1. Oh I disagree Mike, you read my response or you wouldn’t feel the need to respond with you usual sarcastic and know it all attitude. You own nobody. Go ahead and be a jerk, I will be man enough to give you the last word here. You are a coward Mike.

          2. Mike and Larry Pup, ease up on the personal insults. You both are good readers/posters, but sometimes just poking each other becomes a little much as you probably know. Maybe it’s all being done in just good fun, but sometimes hard to tell.
            Let’s just all be happy

  10. Ky 2019-20 roster seven 5* and two 4*…I use to leave daily comments, use to contribute stories from time to time but boy how things have changed. There is so much negativity here. There is a troll that needs to go troll another team. I read the stories but don’t comment often. If this is the way Kentucky fans are treating each other it is such a shame. We are all entitled to our opinions but there is no need to belittle other fans who comment of the fan themselves.

  11. Linda S that being said, all me , Pup and others are just trying protect our beloved CATS. We don’t need so much blasting on our sports program that Catmandoo and Mike is doing. If there was such a perfection in our world we wouldn’t have all the problems that’s going on over this one and only planted that’s mankind is living on.

  12. Mike makes some valid points. I don’t view them as being all negative, just a more honest assessment that you Rah Rahs aren’t capable of giving. As much as I am down on Calipari, I guarantee you that his practices and game reviews are not all kissy kissy, he gets after guys all of the time, even during the games with vulgar language on national TV. Not everything can be Rah Rah, sometimes you have to call it what it is. Cal Is nowhere close to the coach he was when he left Memphis and UMass. I don’t know what has happened to him but he is a different and less effective coach. I would cut off Pup’s ears and Hornet’s stinger if we would go back to that guy. All of this fanatical overkill just shows that there is more truth in all of this so called negative posting or you wouldn’t pay any attention to it. I have listened to Caywood call KY games on the radio since I was in the 5th grade. I have a degree from UK and PLAYED for Coach Hall, so all of you Rah Rah’s can kiss my arse! I bleed blue and always will. If you Rah Rahs knew anything about the game, your posts would be quite different. Coach Hall told us that the only time he would stop getting after us, is when he thought we were not capable of getting better. I didn’t start, but I made the starters better. Everyone is entitled to express their opinions here. If you disagree with it, fine, but all of the personal attacks show you are not worthy of being a part of BBN. True blue bleeders have more class than that.

    1. If you played for Coach Hall Catmandoo, I have more respect for you now, I really do. Good for you. You are man enough to tell us. That said, I never hear Coach Hall running down UK players or their Coach, ever! Certainly not publicly, or on some sports blog. Does he? Of course, we know his real name. I could ask you what your real name is, but I won’t do that here. Coach Hall is a constant beacon of support for this program IMO Coach Calipri has been an open door for Coach Hall’s help too. So I don’t get your constant harping here on players and Coach Calipari if you indeed sat under a UK ICON like that. Something just ain’t right about that picture. I guess there is a time to complain, I just don’t see how anybody with an eye for athletics and accomplishment can knock what Calipari has accomplished at UK thus far in 10 years or so. Quite frankly It is remarkable, and the story is not over yet. I am not a big OAD fan, and UK is seeing more players return now, that’s a good thing IMO. But until the rules are changed the OAD system is here to stay, and Calipari wrote the book on it. One more thing, you are not the only one on this site that knows the game, Many others that post on here know the game as well. So don’t break arrogant on us.

  13. I am glad to see EJ come back, but its time for both him and Nick to take being a KY Wildcat seriously. Its an honor to wear the uniform, or at least it used to be. All of this OAD has ruined college basketball and CBS/ESPN have made it all about money. If Coach Rupp could see the game as it exists now, he would turn the channel and walk away. There is no such thing as a student athlete any more. We got some help back in the day, but we still had to earn the grade first and play afterward, but we always knew it was a privilege to be a Wildcat. The game has become a shell of what it used to be and I fear it will only get worse if that’s possible. Trust me, most of the players avoid these sites, but if they did take a look, they would know who was true blue and who were just wannabes.

  14. Ok Catmandoo if that’s kind of background you got just quit being so negative and cheer on the cats regardless you like it or not. As far as Cal is doing I wouldn’t trade a coach for him to no one. I love coach Hall what he did for UK , but Cal has all ready exceeded what he has done in his time frame as a coach. Of course the game was different at the time and I perferd that time frame of ball to today’s game.

  15. Honest assessments of any coach, player, or team will not be all Rah Rah like they are here. If that were the case, we would win every game and we would have 40 national titles. We always got coaches points quicker and got better when they were honest with us versus being positive. We got our encouragement from improved play, not Rah Rah comments that glossed over what we really needed to work on. Forgive me if I see the game on a different level, but I earned that right. If any of you had done the same, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

  16. Pup….Seriously…have you ever had a Psych Evaluation? I had not ready completely the first time but feel I needed a little entertainment value and went back and did read it. Do you really think anyone on this site really need to know, or even cared, about your background? You just continue to show you own insecurity. That was the rant of all rants. You really do need some help. You are certainly a genius if only in your own limited mind. I still own you though…LOL

  17. If this was my page which it is not I would kick one off of here. You either are a Cat fan or you are not…if not, get the H off the page.

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