Nick Richards Enters 2019 NBA Draft, Could Return to Kentucky for Junior Season

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistApril 22, 2019

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - MARCH 28: Nick Richards #4 of the Kentucky Wildcats looks on during a practice session ahead of the 2019 NCAA Basketball Tournament Midwest Regional at Sprint Center on March 28, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

Kentucky forward Nick Richards announced his intention to enter the 2019 NBA draft Monday but will keep his options open. 

Nick Richards @iamnickrichards

I can’t wait to go through this process thank you for your support BBN 🇯🇲💙 https://t.co/kO7D9XquzD

"After discussing my options with Coach Cal and my family, I decided to enter my name into the NBA Draft," Richards wrote on Twitter. "Using the rules in place, I want to explore every option and see where my game is. I know that my game has grown so much in my time at Kentucky and I want to thank Coach Cal and my teammates for pushing me to be my best every day.

"I want to keep all doors open. If this isn't my time, I'll be more than excited to suit up in front of the best fans in the country again next season and chase our goal of winning a championship," Richards said. "This is a learning process for me and I appreciate the Big Blue Nation for being both understanding and supportive of my decision. I can't thank you enough for welcoming me into your family from day one."

Richards has two years of eligibility remaining. He averaged 4.0 points and 3.3 rebounds in 37 starts during the 2018-19 season and is the fifth Kentucky player to declare for the 2019 draft.

Under new NCAA/NBA rules, Richards can hire an agent to help him in the draft process without losing eligibility. He may also return to school if he goes undrafted, provided he attends the NBA scouting combine.

Richards is a big center who does his best work near the rim, picking up rebounds and put backs. He's also flashed some ability to move away from the basket in the midrange, though coach John Calipari never entrusted him to carry much on the offensive end.

As of right now, Richards seems like a clear candidate to go undrafted. ESPN does not have him currently ranked in their top 100 prospects in the 2019 class.

However, Richards could greatly benefit from returning to school in 2019, where he'd likely have a more focal role. Calipari could rely on him as the steady veteran hand in the starting lineup that, as per usual, will look far different than its predecessor. Bucknell transfer Nate Sestina is the only member of the Wildcats' 2019 class who is a big man.


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