Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
“Right away, I thought national championship, to be honest with you,” a smiling Richards told me Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, where he watched Seton Hall edge No. 16 South Carolina, 67-64, in the Under Armour Reunion.
Richards and his Expressions Elite team, featuring incoming Georgetown point guard Tremont Waters,lost to Green and the PSA Cardinals in the quarterfinals of the Peach Jam in July.
Green went for 17 points, 10 assists and 3 steals in a game that was watched by Kentucky coach John Calipari and three assistants.
Green went on to lead his team to the final, where they lost to Michael Porter Jr., Trae Young and MoKan Elite.
“We see each other in EYBL and camps, I talk to him every now and then,” Richards said of Green. “We’re pretty cool.”
The 6-foot-11 Richards thinks very highly of the Philadelphia native, arguing that he’s ahead of Waters and the other floor generals in the Class of 2017.
“To be honest, I think he’s the No. 1 point guard in my class,” Richards said. “He should be the No. 1 point guard in my class. Yeah, he is the best point guard in my class.”
Kentucky has a four-man class of Richards, Green, Hamilton Heights (TN) combo guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — who went for 31 points in a game against Athlete Institute over the weekend — and Findlay Prep (NV) forward P.J. Washington.
They remain in the mix for Tampa (FL) Catholic wing Kevin Knox, Putnam Science Academy (CT) shooting guard Hamidou Diallo and Westtown (PA) big man Mohamed Bamba, Green’s AAU teammate.
While Green told ZAGSBLOG he will actively recruit those players to Kentucky, Richards says he isn’t actively recruiting anyone at this point.
“I don’t know what Hamidou’s doing,” he said. “I’m happy with who’s coming to Kentucky right now.”
Richards has seen several Kentucky games live already this season. In addition to the Champions Classic, he was at Barclays Center on Sunday when the Wildcats routed Hofstra, 96-73, behind fellow New Jersey product Isaiah Briscoe’s 19 points and 6 assists.Richards was joined by several recruits, including Class of 2018 small forward Louis King and 2019 point guard Bryce Wills.
“I was actually here,” Richards said. “I was watching the game.”
Asked how he sees himself fitting in on a team that will lose Derek Willis to graduation and likely freshman sensation Bam Adebayo to the NBA Draft, in terms of frontcourt players.
“Just coming in right away and trying to start,” he said. “Whatever they need me to do to win, and whatever they want to do to get me better, I’ll do it.”
A native of Jamaica with only about four years of organized basketball under his belt, Richards has already made great strides on the offensive end, and now displays a nifty hook shot, face-up jumper and other post moves.
For now, he’s part of a loaded team at The Patrick School coached by former Rutgers coach Mike Rice and Chris Chavannes. That team — which opens its season Friday at the City of Palms Classic in Florida — features five Division 1 signees, and four frontcourt players 6-9 or bigger.
Rice joked that the team would give a low-level college team a “run for its money.”
“Anybody can beat anybody on a given night but high school teams just lack that physicality,” Rice said. “Not this one. We have men on our team and we’re older and more mature, but it would be interesting. It would certainly be interesting to take on a low-major team. We’d give them a run for their money. I don’t know if we’d ever win, but we’d give somebody a run for their money.”
Richards doesn’t disagree.
“I think we could play a college team right now,” he said.
Richards was coming from a scrimmage against Our Saviour (Long Island) earlier Monday in which his team was dominant.
“It’s going to be scary for other teams,” Richards said.
It’s Tournament of Champions or bust for the Celtics.
“Trying to get a TOC right now,” he said.
Richards attended the Seton Hall game with three of his younger Patrick School teammates who all have Seton Hall offers, 2019 forward Valdir Manuel, 2018 guard Jordan Walker and 2019 guard Al-Amir Dawes. Dawes also was a guest of Villanova on Sunday at Barclays Center when the Wildcats beat Notre Dame. Other recruits on hand included 2018 Hudson Catholic guards Jahvon Quinerly and Luther Muhammad, and 2019 Immaculate Conception guard Jalen Carey.Follow Adam Zagoria on TwitterAnd like ZAGS on Facebook
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.