Photo courtesy of Position Sports/Nike.
By David Cordova
In the tri-state area, there have been plenty of great programs in the within the last 15-20 years, one of them being St. Patrick High School of Elizabeth, New Jersey. Under the legendary Kevin Boyle, the Celtics won five New Jersey state Tournament of Champions titles and had players such as Shaheen Holloway (Seton Hall), Al Harrington (NBA), Samuel Dalembert (Milwaukee Bucks), Corey Fisher (Lieutvos Rytas Vilinius, Lithuania) and most recently, Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Charlotte Hornets), to name a few, before the original school closed for financial reasons in June 2012.
However, in September 2012, the school was revamped and renamed, The Patrick School. Since then, the program has continued to thrive around the state and nationally. As of late, one of the players that has risen to prominence from the land of the Celtics, has become one of the most sought-after recruits in the country.
The player in question, is 6-11 rising senior Nick Richards, who is rated the No. 12 player in the country in the Class of 2017, by ESPN. He is one of the most energetic players in the land, due to his powerful dunks in the post and also, his shot-blocking ability. When the opposition goes into the lane trying to score, they must watch out for his imposing figure, because he is always alert and is always ready to get that block.
Richards was born in Kingston, Jamaica and emigrated to the United State just four years ago, and not long after, he started to play the game of basketball, due to his large size. “My first year playing organized basketball was kind of rough, like as the years went on, things got easier and my skills got more developed, my overall game basically developed,” Richards says.
In his freshman year, Richards attended St. Mary’s High School in the Long Island suburb of Manhasset, NY and then transferred to the legendary program in Elizabeth, NJ. “First year at the Patrick School, there were bumps and bruises. As the time went on me & the coach (and also athletic director & then-head coach Chris Chavannes) developed a good relationship, so things continued to get easier for me.”
Last season, the Celtics, coached by former Rutgers and Robert Morris coach Mike Rice, with Richards and players such as Cyril Langevine (Rhode Island) and Bryce Aiken (Harvard), played a national schedule and went 23-6 and made it all the way to the South Jersey, Non-Public B semifinal game, in which they fell to another Jersey perennial powerhouse, Roselle Catholic, a team that they played for the fourth time that season and had previously beaten twice.
During the AAU season with Expressions Elite in the Nike EYBL, Richards proved his worth as one of the nation’s best players, averaging 12 points and 9.8 rebounds per game as he led his team to a berth at one of the most prestigious events of the summer, the Nike EYBL Peach Jam.
On playing with Expressions: “We made it to the Peach Jam for the first time in two years and basically, it was an honor to play with those guys. Four of our players are ranked in the top 100. You can’t get any more talented than that, so it was an honor to play with Expressions Elite this year.”
Other stops this summer included the NBA Top 100 Camp on the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia, the prestigious Nike Basketball Academy in Los Angeles, California, in which he was mentored by former and current NBA players such as Rasheed Wallace, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and last, and definitely not least, the Under Armour Elite 24 in downtown Brooklyn, NY, which was an opportunity to compete in front of NBA scouts and a chance to play on ESPN. Also, for those that don’t get to see him play much in the five boroughs, he played a couple of games at the Dyckman Tournament in the Inwood section of Manhattan for Tenth Ave, one of the city’s best playground youth teams.
As far as his recruitment, he has listed his offers as follows, “The schools that I’m thinking about right now are: Kentucky, Arizona, Indiana, Syracuse, UConn and I’m wide open to anybody else.”
As his senior year approaches, he looks forward to finishing off strong and leading the Celtics even further than last year, to possibly making it to the Tournament of Champions and also choosing the right school.
But this year, the Celtics have some depth that will make that a possibility, with sophomore Al-Amir Dawes and seniors Jordan Walker, Marcus McClary and Jamir Harris in the backcourt and also the front court with Richards and fellow seniors Buay Koka and Bul Ajang and a recent transfer, Valdir Manuel, from Angola, giving them a front court with four players ranging from 6-foot-9 to 6-foot-11.
When asked about being a part of a scary front court, Richards had this to say, “In practice, it gets competitive. It gets me better to be honest, we go at each other, so it’s great to be one of four big men on our team.”
He has also done a great job of marketing himself off of the court, as he has his own website, iamnickrichards.com, dedicated to his story and his promotion of fitness. His message of inspiration is #TrustTheProcess.
With plenty of talent, there is no doubt that he will make waves when he goes to college and possibly the next level.
Highlights of Nick Richards:
Courtesy of Inside the Hall.
Courtesy of Rivals.
Courtesy of Highlight Sports Productions.
Courtesy of Rivals.