Before the 2020-21 Syracuse Orange men’s basketball season began, head coach Jim Boeheim spoke glowingly of incoming freshman guard Kadary Richmond.
Boeheim had only seen Richmond play once in high school. When he did, Richmond was playing the forward position. Boeheim didn’t know he had a point guard coming in, but once he saw him practice at Syracuse it became apparent. Richmond, a 6-foot-5 guard originally from Brooklyn, New York, didn’t play the point until arriving at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire last season.
Since arriving at Syracuse, Richmond has played well at both guard positions. With Buddy Boeheim sidelined the past three games due to contract-tracing, Richmond has stepped into a starting role.
“It’s been a good experience for Kadary to get a lot of playing time. I think he’s really made some good strides. He’s not quite ready to play 37 minutes. He gets tired. But I think these games have really helped him. I think it’s put him in a good position,” Jim Boeheim said following the Rutgers game.
Richmond said he feels his conditioning has improved each time he’s stepped on the floor. Through four games, he’s averaging 8.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 3.3 steals and 1.0 block per game. He’s shooting 47.6% from the floor. His 3.3 steals per game rank him 12th nationally. His performance wouldn’t suggest he needs time to acclimate to the speed of the college game.
“It’s very fast-paced, very intense. Nothing like high school. I’ve figured out what my role is here in these first few games,” Richmond said on a Zoom call Thursday with local media.
Richmond says he’s already grown in his decision-making and play-making since stepping onto the Syracuse campus over summer. He says he’s picked up on the various reads in the pick and roll. His head coach isn’t necessarily asking for him to score and expects him to split the point guard responsibilities with Joe Girard.
In Thursday’s practice, the younger Boeheim returned for the first time in nearly two weeks. Whether or not that means Richmond starts going forward is irrelevant to him.
“I just have it in my mind that no matter how much time I play, if I start or come off the bench, I’m going to compete in the time I get,” Richmond said. “I’m just going to play.”
While he’s not concerned with starting or coming off the bench, Richmond isn’t just happy to be here, either. He made it known that playing at this level was something he dreamed of. He used to watch Syracuse on television and made mention of the Orange’s 2016 Final Four run with Malachi Richardson. He remembers watching Jonny Flynn play at Syracuse, and cited Carmelo Anthony as well, another Brooklyn-born basketball player.
“It means a lot because people from my area don’t get opportunities like this. So I’m not going to waste a moment of it. I’m going to go out there and compete,” Richmond finished.
For Syracuse basketball stories and updates, follow @NunesMagician and @JamesSzuba on Twitter