Freshman center Nick Richards (pictured) posted the best game of his young Kentucky career, finishing with 25 points on 9-of-10 shooting and added 15 rebounds. Photo by Chet White, courtesy of UK Athletics
Freshman center Nick Richards flashed his potential at times but foul trouble and confusion have sent him to the bench often in the first month of the season. That was not the case tonight, as he was brilliant for John Calipari and Kentucky, finishing with a double-double of 25 points and 15 rebounds.
When five-star center Mohamed Bamba committed to Texas last spring, Richards’ value to Kentucky increased. Early in this season, he has looked lost, which is normal for a freshman. However, tonight he looked focused and engaged from the start.
Often times this season, Sacha Killeya-Jones has been the guy receiving the bulk of the minute’s inside. The development of SKJ has been crucial for Kentucky because it is allowing Richards to develop and figure things out. When you combine both, Kentucky has a solid force in the paint and elite rim protection.
Even more impressive is his ability to knock down free throws. Tonight, Richards finished a perfect 7-of-7 from the charity stripe, something he told media that he takes pride in. After a win earlier this season, Richards said he learned how important free throw shooting is after a 0-10 performance in a one-point loss during his freshman year of high school.
His efficiency didn’t stop at the free throw line. Richards’ game-high 25 points came via a 9-of-10 performance from the field in 26 minutes of play.
He may have struggled at times this season but on Wednesday night, Richards was the best player on the floor. His strong play is a very encouraging sign for Kentucky moving forward.