Kentucky basketball has experienced a ton of roster shake-ups over the last few weeks. Wildcats fans got some news about a returning player for the 2018-19 season today, though. Nick Richards, a former elite recruit, played sparingly for UK down the stretch this season. He will be back next year.
Richards was the No. 18 player in the class of 2017, per 247Sports. The former five-star recruit was the No. 2 center in the country. He was also the top-ranked player in the state of New York. Richards joined UK in the class that featured standouts like Kevin Knox and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Amazingly, Richards was only the fifth-highest rated player in that group. That showed a bit as the season wore on, and his role diminished.
Richards played a total of 21 minutes in Kentucky's three NCAA Tournament games. He scored two points each against Davidson and Buffalo, and a single point in the Sweet 16 loss to Kansas State.
Earlier in the year, Nick Richards had a bigger role. Through the February 17 game against Alabama, Richards played double-digit minutes in all but one game for the Wildcats.
Against Fort Wayne on November 22, he exploded for 25 points on 9-of-10 shooting. He also grabbed a season-high 15 rebounds in that game.
During the stretch run, Richards fell out of the rotation. After that Alabama game, Richards only played more than nine minutes one time.
Now, Nick Richards is heading back to Kentucky for his sophomore season.
It may seem like an obvious move on paper. However, we've seen former five-star recruits with limited roles as freshmen make the jump, or at least test the waters.
It should be welcome news for Kentucky fans, as the Wildcats need to retool for 2018-19. The team has already lost stars Knox and Gilgeous-Alexander to the NBA Draft. Reserve forwards Tai Wynyard and Sacha Killeya-Jones are transferring out of the program.
Nick Richards will have a host of new teammates to compete with for time. E.J. Montgomery committed to the Wildcats on Monday. John Calipari has also teased that the class may not be done. The class, which also features five-star guards Keldon Johnson and Immanuel Quickley and four-star guard Tyler Herro, is currently ranked No. 2 in the country.