In anticipation of the 2007-08 Minnesota Timberwolves season, TWolvesBlog is counting down the days 'til tip-off by featuring some of our team's players. These player articles were written by several of our forum members, as well as the site's regular contributors. The second piece in this series was written by a Wolves fan relocated to Austin, Texas: forum poster, Whiskey Dizzy. In it, he gives us an informational look at our newest second round draft pick... the two-time NCAA Champion center Chris Richard.
Chris Richard - "A Committment To Winning"
Chris Richard was born on Christmas Day, December 25th, 1984 in Lakeland, Florida. Richard attended Kathleen High School in Lakeland, where he played varsity for four years averaging 24 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and seven blocked shots per game. He won the state championship in 2001 during his sophomore campaign but failed to play for the title his junior or senior seasons. During his senior year, Richard was named the Gatorade High School Player of the Year and won the Mr. Basketball award for the state of Florida. Richard committed to play for Billy Donovan at the University of Florida the summer before his senior year, choosing the Gators over offers from Alabama, Auburn and Miami.
Richard arrived in Gainesville with great potential and promise, hoping to help turn the Gators basketball team into a national powerhouse. However, after two disappointing seasons Richard was averaging less than four points and three rebounds a game while constantly battling recurring knee injuries. Chris was frustrated and disappointed by his lack of playing time and production. But rather than getting discouraged, he rededicated himself in the offseason, working out hard to prevent injuries and increase his skills on the offensive side of the ball. On his early troubles at Florida: “It was tough, but I learned and I'm happy I learned from it…I learned patience, man. It was really tough my freshman year, but I'd rather be on that team and do the things I did and win games and championships than be on any other team and start and lose games. I'm not really into that. I want to win games.”
Doing things the right way paid off for Chris and the Gators, as Florida won the National Championship twice in 2006 and 2007. During the 2007 Title run, the 2007 SEC Sixth Man of the Year averaged 9 points per game, connecting on over 84% of his shots. Richard finished his career as Florida’s winnest player, having his hand in 112 wins over his four years. Even though he only started 4 games over his 4 years in Gainesville, Chris’ contributions to the Gator’s back to back championships were invaluable.
In the weeks before the draft, many draft gurus were unsure if Richards name would be called or if he should prepare himself to walk on to a team after the draft. But with the 11th pick in the second round, Kevin McHale and the Minnesota Timberwolves selected the 22 year old Florida graduate, smitten by his winning attitude, work ethic and commitment to defense. (Interesting Note: The USBL, or United States Basketball League, also drafted Richards this year. The Gary Steelheads selected Richard 2nd overall in their annual draft. The USBL runs from late April through June and acts as preparation for those players looking to hone their skills before NBA camps begin) While Chris Richard’s career with the Timberwolves has only just begun, already he’s starting to make a difference with his game tying tip-in against Indiana a few nights ago. While Life in the NBA is filled with bumps in the road, it’ll help having his college teammate and friend Corey Brewer (with whom he still shares a cell phone plan) on the roster to smooth things out. “I didn't really see it coming, but I was ready anyway... I'm willing to do whatever they need me to do.”