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Winning, not statistics, motivates Jeff senior
March 8, 2012Lafayette Jefferson High School
Looking up to cousins and siblings who starred at Lafayette Jeff over the years, Rashad Richardson has witnessed hundreds of basketball games at Crawley Center.
For the first time last March, he couldn't bear to walk through the door.
"I come here every year for semistate, and I see another team playing in my gym," said Richardson, a senior guard/forward. "My sophomore year I almost cried. I just couldn't take it, to see how packed it was. It was like graduation-packed. It was just so beautiful.
"Last year, I came out of the parking lot, looked in, and I went home. My competitive edge just got to me. I couldn't even watch the game."
Had he not broken bones in both of his wrists in separate incidents last season, this story could be about how Richardson was making a push into Jeff's all-time scoring top five. The lanky 6-foot-5 lefty has scored 899 points and would already be past 1,000 if those injuries hadn't cost him 11 games.
Yet those numbers are not part of the equation when Richardson calculates his legacy at Lafayette Jeff. In his eyes, the only way to ensure a place among the program's all-time greats is to lead the Bronchos to a sectional championship, which he'll attempt to do next week at Kokomo.
"I was texting him the other night because I was trying to get stuff together to send to colleges for him," said Jeff coach Scott Radeker, whose team plays at Class 4A No. 1 Hamilton Southeastern tonight. "The last text he sent to me was, 'Yeah, that sounds good, but I want to make a deep run in the tournament. That's all that's important to me right now.'
"I thought that was an awesome statement for him to make."
Richardson, averaging 23.6 points per game this season, currently ranks 16th on Lafayette Jeff's all-time scoring list. With a 28-point game against Brownsburg last Friday, he passed his brother, Roddy, and tied his cousin, Dallas. He broke that tie by scoring 18 in a 64-51 victory over then-Class 3A No. 8 Western, continuing his streak of scoring 15 or more points in every game this season.
Richardson's sister, Charae, and cousin, Brandi, both starred for Broncho girls basketball teams before continuing their careers in college. Some might have considered that pedigree a lot to live up to. Richardson considers it a blessing.
"The path was made. All I had to do was walk a straight path and take the good things out of what they did," Richardson said. "They paved the way for me."
Richardson built his scoring reputation largely on his outside shooting touch and ability to penetrate and get to the basket. This season he's added more versatility to his game, providing an offensive and defensive post option crucial to the undersized Bronchos.
While the Jeff coaches talked to Richardson before the season about playing inside more, he says he also took his cousin Dallas' advice not to fear the post.
"Because he can shoot the ball so well, they'll have smaller guys guarding him, quicker guys," said fellow senior Derrick Rogers, whose 6.1 rebounds are second to Richardson's 8.7 among Jeff players. "We'll run a play, and he'll somehow find his way under the basket and take control down there.
"He's really good down there -- getting the O boards, putting them back up, tipping them in. It's been nice to see him develop his game and be so versatile."
Last season's wrist injuries slowed Richardson's recruiting efforts, and at the beginning of the season, he expected to attend a prep school next season. Recently, more options have opened up. Wisconsin-Milwaukee attended Jeff's senior night to watch Richardson, and Radeker is preparing to send film to about 40 schools.
"He's got a lot of upside, a lot of room for improvement, when he's playing at the college level on a daily basis and gets in the weight room there," Radeker said. "A year or two down the road, he's going to be a nice find for somebody."
Radeker typically picks Richardson up on the way to school in the morning. By 7:10, Richardson is putting up shots in Crawley Center, a ritual he began while making 10,000 shots before the opening bell in the fall.
Radeker said he can count on one hand the number of times Richardson has missed one of those morning sessions.
"Honestly, a lot of times I just feel like I have so much to prove, mostly just to myself, so I know that I can do it," Richardson said. "I also want people to know what I can do, but mainly, it's so when I lay my head on the pillow at night I can say I worked as hard as I could and nobody held me back and I can be satisfied with myself and leave a good legacy behind."