By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach John Calipari has never questioned Nick Richards’ potential even if many UK basketball fans have the last two years.
The coach has constantly talked about Richards being a huge key to UK’s national championship success. Yet he’s always seemed to have a quick hook with Richards when he commits a foul, blows a defensive assignment or fails to get a rebound — and he seemed to always be making those kind of mistakes.
Richards averaged only 12.1 minutes per game last season — eighth teammates averaged more minutes per game. Now with PJ Washington and Reid Travis gone, Richards’ time to shine could be coming next year.
“He hasn’t been treated any different than any other player here and now he’s got this opportunity in front of him. He’s going to have to go and take it, but it’s still an opportunity,” Calipari said. “It’s his job to go take it.
“I believe he will. I believed in the kid probably in the first two years more than he believed in himself. I’m not the only one. I think a lot of people are saying with his size and length, who’s like him in the country? There is nobody. There’s no one like him in the country, so now it’s his chance.”
Richards said coming back to UK rather than trying to play professionally was an easy decision and that he knew he would be coming back before he officially announced it. His goal is to be a better player daily and develop the consistency NBA scouts — and Calipari — have told him he must develop.
“Coach just talks about me getting into the gym and working out the same things over and over again. Hopefully one day it just clicks on the basketball court,” Richards said. “I’m just going out there and take it day by day.
“I’m trying to show everyone what kind of player I am and show everybody I love the game of basketball. Just try to move forward from there.”