“My No. 1 goal when I came to Kentucky was to compete for a national championship,” Richards said in a press release. “I’m sorry we didn’t have the chance to play for one this year and bring a trophy home to Kentucky, and although I’d love nothing more than to achieve that goal, it is time for me to pursue my ultimate dream of becoming an NBA player.
Richards added, “I’m confident that I’m prepared for this step because of my time at Kentucky. I plan to forgo my remaining eligibility and will be signing with an agency.”
Of all the kids that we’ve coached who have elevated and benefitted from the culture we’ve built here, I would say Nick is at the top of the list,” John Calipari said. “Nick’s ability to self-evaluate and block out the clutter for the last three seasons has shown incredible maturity. To be able to look inward and say, ‘I need more time and I wouldn’t trade this time at Kentucky for anything in the world,’ says a lot about Nick.”
Richards signed with the Wildcats in 2017 as a McDonald’s All-American and five-star recruit. After struggling in his first two seasons, the big-man finally broke through as a Junior.
The center averaged 14.0 points per game and led the team with (7.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. Richards also led the Wildcats in double-doubles with 10.
In a victory over Texas Tech on Jan. 25, Richards became just the second Wildcat in the Calipari era to post at least 25 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks in a game joining Anthony Davis (2012). On Feb. 4, he posted a career-high 27 points with 25 of them coming in the second half.
As a result of his breakout season, he was named First-Team All-SEC and made the All-SEC Defensive team.