During Saturday’s game against Nebraska, K-State will retire the jersey of one of the greatest Wildcat basketball players, Mitch Richmond. Here’s a look back to his time at K-State before he left for the NBA.
In his senior year at K-State, Mitch Richmond was the E.F. Hutton of Wildcat basketball. When the ball was in his hands, people stopped to watch. Here’s some of the rave reviews he received during the 1986-87 campaign:
“Richmond has major-league moves,” said Hubbie Brown, former coach of the New York Knicks. “He is an inside player, he is a wing player off the dribble and he has a great ability to make the long shot under pressure.”
“Richmond should be a first-round draft pick in the next National Basketball Association draft,” the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook said. “He can legitimately do it all.”
“If he doesn’t make it in the pros, I’ll eat my shoes,” said former NBA star Bob Lanier. Remember, Lanier wore size 19 shoes.
As the season progressed, more and more people wanted a share of Richmond’s time. National publications, such as Sports Illustrated and the Sporting News ran feature articles on the 6-foot-5-inch, 225-pound senior guard/forward. This was in addition to local and regional media coverage, but it was all part of the transition game Richmond had played his entire life.
When Richmond came to K-State via Moberly (Mo.) Junior College in 1986, considerable attention was given to Norris Coleman and his continuing struggle with the NCAA to regain eligibility following a high-school transcript snafu. Coleman eventually said goodbye to Manhattan and went pro, leaving Richmond to the media vultures.
Richmond wasn’t bothered by the “hype,” as he called it, as proven by his scoring average, which climbed to more than 23 points per game before the season ended.
“I think I handled the media pressure really well,” Richmond said. “I didn’t really think about what the media said. I just wanted to have a great senior year.”
When K-State’s season ended, there were more transitions to be made. Questions were raised about Richmond’s ability to adjust to the big guard position in the NBA.
Wildcat coach Lon Kruger said there would be no problems.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that he can play shooting guard in the NBA,” Kruger said. “The bottom line on Mitch is that he’s a player who can handle a couple of different positions very capably. He has talent, and that’s what the scouts recognize.”
Richmond adjusted to making transitions. He was ineligible his freshman and part of his sophomore seasons at his Florida high school, and needed a summer course to graduate. That’s all past news as he was ready to receive his degree in social sciences in May.
Even with two years of junior college under his belt to help him adjust, the transition to K-State wasn’t entirely easy for Richmond.
“I’d have to admit, I was kind of scared at first,” Richmond said. “When I got here, the coaches pretty much told me I was going to be the one that they counted on to lead this team.”
It was a big transition for Richmond to come to a school with a rich basketball tradition like K-State’s. Maybe it helped that he was a little naive. He only knew about Norris Coleman and Rolando Blackman. Still, it’s only fitting that in the last magical season of Ahearn Field House, another court wizard was here to make the transition to the Fred Bramlage Coliseum truly memorable.