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John Calipari says Nick Richards has to “take” opportunity coming up

Nick Richards (Jeff Houchin Photo)


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.”


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  1. He can start by simply ‘making it a habit’ to look for his close in jump shot. He’s already got the jump hook down that no one can block. It would also greatly help him, if instead of just ‘routinely going through the motion’ of a hand off, he’d keep the man guarding him honest, by occassionly taking the ball immediately to the basket. I know all about not wanting the big guys to put the ball on the floor, but if you’re going to make it in the NBA you have to take advantage of opportunities to score. While it’s acknowledged his main job is to be a rim protector and rebounder, no one will fault him, when the opportunity presents itself, for taking that beautiful face up jumper that he hits on a pretty consistent basis…especially if it is reasonably uncontested. While Nick hasn’t played the game as long as his other teammates, he’s starting to come on and I’m hoping to see big improvements in his game this year…I can’t help but like the guy, so I wish him the best,

  2. Hard to have any real confidence in Nick when he hasn’t shown any confidence in himself…..still think his problem is between his ears.

  3. Hey Mike, when we were his age we had the same problem that’s between our ears. Richards will be fine in time mark my word

  4. I honestly feel that Nick’s biggest problem is Calipari. Look at how he played in the Bahamas last year when Cal was not on the bench. Cal’s offense assigns kids a label. He will feature 2 kids, i.e. PJ and Tyler, a third, Keldon, made his opportunities with hustle, and everyone else is a role player. Will Calipari run his offense through Nick…history says no. He will try to win with guards and wings next year and Nick will be another wasted big man as will EJ and Sestina. And we wonder why we can’t get elite big men to come here anymore.

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