Jamaican-born basketball player Nick Richards was selected in the 2020 NBA draft on Wednesday night as one of the two NBA hopefuls from Jamaica.
The 22-year-old former University of Kentucky forward was chosen by the New Orleans Pelicans with the 42nd pick. He was then traded to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for a 2024 second-round pick.
Richards was born in Kingston, Jamaica and attended the Jamaica College All-Boys High School. He competed in soccer, volleyball and track and field before being discovered by Andre Ricketts, a New York City-based basketball scout, in the summer of 2013 during a basketball camp in Jamaica.
Ricketts brought him to the US, where Richards attended St. Mary’s High School in Manhasset, New York. He finished his high school career at The Patrick School in Hillside, New Jersey.
He was ranked a five-star recruit in the class of 2017 by ESPN and committed to the University of Kentucky (UK) in November 2016. He was UK’s first commit in the class of 2017 and chose Kentucky over Syracuse and Arizona.
Following an impressive sophomore season, he declared for the 2019 NBA draft but opted to return to Kentucky. He averaged 14 points per game during his junior year and was in contention for the Southeastern Conference (SEC Player) of the Year award.
His college career came to an unexpected end when the conference champions and the men’s basketball tournament were cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a video posted to Twitter, head coach of Kentucky’s basketball team, John Calipari said of Richards: “(He) can shoot it, can block it, can shoot jump shots, can guard guards … this was a great pick.”
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) November 19, 2020
The other Jamaican basketball player Romaro Gill went undrafted and now hopes to sign on with a team as a free agent.