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Nick Richards’ practice work now transferring to the court — just ask Leah Edmond

Nick Richards, left, was part of Leah Edmond’s Senior Day ceremony. (Larry Vaught Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

It was during her sophomore season when Kentucky volleyball star met basketball player Nick Richards at a party. Edmond said she just kind of “hung out” with the freshman before he finally asked, “Do you want to date?”

Now they have been dating for two years.

“He is definitely the shy one and I am definitely the outgoing one in the relationship,” Edmond said.

Yet when it came time for her volleyball senior day, there was Richards walking out with her and her parents and being introduced as Edmond’s boyfriend.

“It was not hard to get him to do it like I thought it might be. I was like, ‘I want you to be out there and I need you to be out there’ and he was like okay with it. It was not even a question,” Edmond said.

“It was kind of weird to be honest. I thought he would be like, ‘No I don’t want to go out there.’ But he was willing to go out there for me and I really appreciated it. It was not the best situation for him because he does not like being out in public if he does not have to be.”

Edmond is an all-American and two-time SEC Player of the Year while Richards struggled for consistency his first two seasons. However, Edmond said having Richards to talk to and just watch was a blessing for her.

“Sometimes he just puts things in perspective for me. Sometimes I feel like I am dealing with a lot and I know he is on a bigger scale. He’s under a tiny microscope where he can’t really do anything without everybody knowing,” Edmond said.

“It’s not really the same for me or at least not anywhere close to the same level. I think sometimes it humbles me when I see his work ethic with him being in the gym all the time. I think for me it was frustrating to see how much he was in the gym and it wasn’t transferring to the court for him when I was not in the gym as much as him and things were coming easy for me.

“I think there was a sense of regret and humbleness to where if he was working that hard, there’s no reason I can’t do that too. So he has pushed me to open up my eyes and look to hard work more than just my given talent. He made me a better player just because I started trying to work as hard as he has for the last two years.”

Now that work seems to be paying off for Richards, too. After a two-game slump in Las Vegas, he was dynamic in Saturday’s overtime win over Louisville. He had 13 points and 10 rebounds and drew 11 fouls from the Cardinals. He also scored seven straight points in overtime.

Edmond had some fun on Twitter after the Louisville game. She noted that her and Richards were “a combined 7-0 against Louisville” in their UK careers.

Then came a not so subtle jab at some of the Richards’ critics/doubters.

“Nick Richards bandwagon/fan club is closed been closed and we’re not accepting any new people should’ve rolled with us from the beginning,” Edmond posted on Twitter.

I certainly understand her reasoning. However, with the way Richards is playing, that bandwagon is going to have a lot of folks wanting to get on board.

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