Jamaican headed to Charlotte Hornets
National basketballer Nick Richards will begin his professional career in the NBA with the Charlotte Hornets.
The 22-year-old Jamaica College and University of Kentucky alum was originally selected with the 42nd overall pick by the New Orleans Pelicans in NBA Draft held at ESPN studios in Bristol, Connecticut, on Wednesday. However, the Hornets executed a trade soon after the selection to acquire Richards, sending a 2024 second-round pick to the Pelicans in exchange. Various mock drafts say he was projected to be taken later by the Oklahoma City Thunder, who had the 52nd overall pick.
Richards will now join a roster that includes his former Kentucky teammate P.J. Washington and the third overall pick LaMelo Ball.
ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas said during the coverage on Wednesday that he was impressed by Richards’ improvement over his three-year college career when he was projected to leave for the NBA after his freshman year in 2018.
“He was expected to be one of the ‘one and done’ guys, but it took him a little bit longer. But he kept working, kept getting better and kept getting more efficient,” Bilas said.
In his final season with the Kentucky Wildcats, Richards was named to the All South Eastern Conference first team, averaging 14 points per game and led the conference in field goal percentage (64 per cent).
Kentucky head coach John Calipari congratulated Richards in a tweet on Wednesday, for realising his NBA dream.
“[He] can shoot it, block it, can shoot jump shots, can guard guards in pick and rolls. This was a great pick,” Calipari said. “When he left here (Kentucky), he looked at us and looked at me and said ‘I want to thank you. Because you believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.’”
Isaiah Stewart, who is of Jamaican heritage, was originally selected 16th overall by the Portland Trailblazers, but was eventually traded to the Detroit Pistons. Stewart’s father, Dela, migrated to the United States in the 1970s. Stewart spent his only year in college at the University of Washington where he wore the number 33 in honour of Jamaica-born basketball hall of famer, Patrick Ewing.
St Thomas native and Seton Hall University alum Romaro Gill went undrafted on Wednesday night, but signed an Exhibit 10 deal with the Utah Jazz yesterday. The deal means that Gill will be invited to training camp and will compete to make the main roster. Gill finished his senior season as the Big East Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved Player.
Date of birth: November 27, 1997
High school: Jamaica College
University: University of Kentucky
Draft info: 2020: Second round, 42nd pick
Team: Charlotte Hornets