But Richards wasn’t always destined for basketball stardom, spending time as a skateboarder and a soccer player before entering high school at 6-foot-10 and somewhere between 180 and 190 pounds.
“My first year, I didn’t really — it was just a hobby, just like skateboarding was just a hobby for me,” Richards told CoachCal.com. “I think it was my junior year that I could do something with this. When you see something that can happen you put your mind to it, you start working on it every day. If you hate it, you hate it, but if you fall in love with it, you just keep doing it. I just fell in love with it.”
It wasn’t easy early on.
“I was weak, couldn’t hold my own on the block,” Richards said. “Couldn’t get a rebound. Everybody was stronger than me. As the years went on, I just kept on getting better.”
Richards got his first tattoo in July across his chest: “Be somebody that nobody thought you could be.”
“That’s one of the reasons I play basketball right now,” Richards said. “People told me I couldn’t do anything with it. People told me I was going to be a D-3 player when I was a freshman. Now I’m at Kentucky.”
And he’s well aware of what his role is, and willing to be that kind of star noting that “if it takes ‘three points, 20 rebounds and seven blocks’ to win a game,” he’ll take it.
If Richards does that, it would be just another case of him giving it to his ‘haters.’
“I think if it wasn’t for my work ethic I wouldn’t be here,” Richards said. “If it wasn’t for haters I wouldn’t be here either.”
Kentucky fans are happy that he is, with the former No. 17 player in the 247Sports Composite ready to put on show for Big Blue Nation.
“We’re just going to shock the world.”