Q&A: Nick Richards doesn't want to just be a defensive player

T.J. Walker, Basketball Recruiting Analyst
Cats Illustrated

Kentucky has plenty of options on the wing and in the backcourt, but if the Cats want to win a national championship Nick Richards will have to be a viable option in the paint.

John Calipari said that Richards is a shot-blocker, but Richards told Cats Illustrated that at some point this season he wants to be known as more then just a shot-blocker.

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Courtesy of McDonald's All-American Game

On being at UK: Just to be around athletes like this, five-star players. It's been incredible. I'm a better basketball player because of it. And I guess that's it.

On if anyone has surprised him: Shai (Alexander) has been the most surprising to me so far. I hadn't seen Shai play basketball before. Just to see him do all of this and be ranked so low is pretty surprising.

On the bond between the players: Yeah, we all have the same intentions. We all have the same goal, but basically we all just trying to learn how to play Kentucky basketball. How to fit in. How to show the world that we're different.

On life in Lexington: In New York I got the same amount of love I get here. It's pretty cool. Not a lot of people come up and chase you for pictures. They come up and say, 'Hi, you're Nick Richards. You play basketball.' They recognize me. It's pretty cool. You have to have a humble feeling. You can't let it get to your head. You can't let it overwhelm you at the same time.

On getting to know Coach Cal: I was able to know Coach Cal on a personal standpoint during recruiting. I've done a couple one-on-one meetings with coach and we try to get to know each other at the same time. He just tells you the truth. I don't like being around guys that sugarcoat stuff or make things seem easy. Coach Cal, I trust him. He keeps it real with you, he's going to tell you when you're messing up or when you're doing bad.

On Calipari's advice: He thought I needed to improve my conditioning the most. The offensive game will come, he kept telling me it will come. He told me I will eventually get it but I'm new to the game. He said no matter what I'm going to be fine and I'm going to be great.

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Matt Moreno/GOAZCATS.com

On Kenny Payne's development with bigs: I've been around Coach Payne the most. He's help me improve on my offensive game right now. Hopefully during the season or later on in the season people will see how much I've improved on my offense.

On being labeled as a defensive player: I am a defensive player but I want to be more than that.

On pickup games: It's been crazy. It's been intense, competitive, guys going at each other every possession. It's been really fun.

On who he likes to go against: I like going up against Wenyen. I like going up against guys that are different positions, like Quade. I challenge myself to guard Quade even though he's a foot shorter than me and quicker than me.

On if he's picked up confidence in defending guards: When I was when high school my coaches pushed me to guard guards and any position but I guess right now it's becoming second nature to me when my guy sets a pick and I switch.

On the biggest difference from NYC to Lexington: New York there are buildings all over the place and people. It's the city that never sleeps. People are always out no matter what. It's been a big adjustment because New York is so loud at night and Kentucky is so quiet. It's been hard to get used to.

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