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NBA hopefuls Richards, Gill excite nat’l coach

Published:Thursday | October 29, 2020 | 12:06 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter

As national basketballers Romaro Gill and Nick Richards prepare to take the next step in their careers, national senior coach Rick Turner says that he is excited about their professional futures.

Both are prospects available for selection in this year’s NBA Draft, scheduled for November 18. The ceremony will take place with a virtual format this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

While their collegiate careers ended abruptly because of COVID-19 and the subsequent cancellation of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, they still managed to have great individual seasons to close their respective college chapters.

The 26-year-old Gill, who played for Seton Hall University, was named the Big East Conference Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved Player after a season which saw him lead the conference in blocks per game (3.5). Turner says that his defensive presence as well as his desire to improve will make him an asset to any potential team.

“He’s (Gill) an easy guy to root for because he’s just a likeable young man, and he has come so far and improved so much in such a short period of time,” Turner told The Gleaner. “His size is going to be a great benefit to him and his shot-blocking ability, his ability to defend at the rim, and, obviously, his coachability is something that’s been on display over the course of the last three years. I don’t want to put expectations on him, but I think there are really good things ahead for Romaro Gill and his basketball future.”

Improved in final season

Meanwhile, Richards played three seasons for many-time champions University of Kentucky under the tutelage of head coach John Calipari. While his sophomore season was spent coming off the bench frequently, he improved in his final season, averaging 14 points per game, 7.8 assists per game, as well as 2.1 blocks per game. Turner says that he looks forward to Richards’ continued growth in the NBA.

“It’s obvious from his (Richards) time at Kentucky he’s well-grounded, he’s a hard worker. In terms of his basketball skills, he’s long, he blocks shots, he finishes at the rim,” Turner said. “I think his perimeter game will continue to improve once he gets on a NBA roster, and I just think there is so much upside that I’m really excited about watching him grow and develop as the years move along.”

Richards is projected to be a late second-round selection, while Gill reportedly had Zoom interviews with eight NBA teams over the summer, including the New York Knicks.

Whatever unfolds on draft day, Turner says that the importance is about capitalising on the opportunity to play in the NBA, no matter how it is achieved.

“Whether that comes as a first-round pick, whether that comes as a second-round pick, whether that comes as a free agent, [or] whether that comes through the G league first. Whatever path you take to get there, it’s what you do with that opportunity when it’s presented to you,” he said.