It’s official: Great Britain’s 1991-born Ryan Richards has declared for the NBA Draft: According to UK-based Basketball 24/7, the British power forward/centre currently playing for Swiss first-division club BBC Monthey (on loan from the ACB’s Gran Canaria 2014) will enter this year’s NBA Draft.

Unfortunately, I can’t for the life of me understand why he would do this … yes, Richards is a 6’10”, 235 lb. big man with extreme amounts of potential, but he is not considered one of Europe’s top prospects in most mock drafts (unlike Donatas Motiejunas, Jan Vesely and Miroslav Raduljica) and he doesn’t have the experience or skills that a lot of these players have.

Richards is not, like some European big men, playing on their national teams (even though Great Britain has a relatively weak national squad), though Richards has played well at international tournaments such as the Future Stars 2009 event in the UK and last year’s European championship against opposition from Spain and Poland. He is however, lacking some key fundamentals, a key go-to move, experience and the skills that a lot of Americans can provide.

Unfortunately, some of my information may be wrong (no offence to some sites, but I don’t understand where information is derived from) has Ryan averaging 13.3 points per game with 56% field-goal shooting and having scored a season-high 30 points against SAV Vacallo in January; however, according to the official BBC Monthey website, his top individual-game score was 20 on February 6th. I therefore must assume his other reported averages are wrong: Richards could be averaging more or less than 13.3 ppg. Also according to the same site he only played 3 profesional games last season, for a guy who has declared for the NBA draft seems rather low.

Finally, Richards’ stats in European under-18 play in 2009 were impressive, at 29 points on 61% shooting and 13 rebounds per game; however, he and Team Great Britain weren’t exactly playing against Russia or Lithuania or Spain, but rather against relatively lowly national teams from Belgium and Austria.

This guy is good, don’t get me wrong, and by some standards he’s big, but Richards could be easily defended by bigger stronger guys in Europe, let alone the NBA. Joel Freeland is a bigger, stronger, more complete player than Ryan with more experience and better fundamentals – Freeland was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers back in 2006 and has yet to play a game in the NBA.

I feel that if Ryan does enter the NBA this year, he’ll be sent back to Europe and forgotten. Yes with time, he could develop into a solid power forward, but I feel this is not his year as he’s just not ready. Ryan drop out of the draft please! As a fellow Briton, I’m telling you, it’s not your year!

− written by Sam Chadwick

Sam Chadwick is a assistant coach for the Solent Kestrels U13 team. He also writes a basketball-centered blog called Behind The Back.

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