Jordan Richard is a 27 year old 206cm forward from San Bernadino, California that has been a professional basketball player since 2013. Currently he is playing with Soles de Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic-LNB) where he has played 14 games averaging 15,0ppg, 9,2rpg, 1,2apg and 3,9 blocks per game. He also has gained professional basketball experience with teams like Hopsi Polzela (Slovenia-Telemach League), Elitzur Ramla (Israel-National League), Bawer Matera (Italy-A2 Silver), Reno Bighorns (D-League), and Darkhan Garid (Mongolia-Superliga). He played college ball with teams like Cal.St.-San Bernar. (NCAA2) and CS Los Angeles (NCAA2). He spoke to German Hoops while playing in the Dominican Republic.
Jordan thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been?
German Hoops, thank you for having me and for the opportunity to interview with you. The summer has been excellent so far – I went from working out, playing in the Drew League to playing for Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.
You have been playing in the Dominican Republic this summer for Soles de Santo Domingo. In only three and a half professional seasons you have been in Europe to places like Slovenia, Israel, Italy and Mongolia. Do you already feel a little like a basketball globetrotter?
I don’t feel like a basketball globetrotter at all. I was introduced to the overseas lifestyle early on by my mom and my father, Larry Richard, who played overseas professionally when I was younger. He was fortunate to play in Turkey his whole career for Fenerbache and Efes Pilson, two historic teams, in the EuroLeague. He told me that being away from home is part of the grind of overseas basketball and to embrace seeing all parts of the world because it is something that most people don’t get the opportunity to do.
What kind of experience has it been playing in the Dominican Republic? You are one of the teams best performers averaging 14,6ppg and 8,8ppg 3.6bpg. Did you get freedom form the coaching staff from the start?
Yes the coaching staff has given me the freedom to be successful from the start. They brought me in to protect the paint, rebound, and run the floor. However, I think they’ve been happy with my ability to also score the basketball and knock down the jumper. When I first arrived to the team as a replacement we were 0-4 and since then we have improved to 9-4 so it has been a complete turnaround.
You have very talented teammates with ex Stanford sensation Anthony Goods who also has lived the basketball globetrotter lifestyle the last years as well as ex Los Angeles Laker Derrick Caracter. How much have you profited from their presence on the court?
Playing with Anthony Goods is an honor to me. I grew up watching Anthony. We are from the same area in Southern California – the Inland Empire. Anthony has played in some of the best leagues in Europe and it’s great to be able to have the opportunity to gain knowledge from someone that has played at the highest level. He’s a great shooter and playmaker. I’ve already learned so much from him especially from the offensive end.
When you see a guy like Derrick Carachter who made it to the NBA, but has struggled the last years moving from team to team, do you sense that the level and degree of talent that you need to get to the NBA isn´t as big as one might think when you compare your own game to guys that have made the step to the NBA.
Derrick has had a great career. I remember when he was drafted to the Lakers, something that everyone doesn’t get the chance to do. He’s also coming off a phenomenal year in Israel during the 2015-2016 season. It’s all about the opportunity and being in the right situation, especially as a professional. I’ve seen players get cut from a team in Europe and go on to play in the NBA. It was crazy to me at first but I’ve learned that it’s a business and you have to have thick skin. It’s important to have confidence and understand that just because it didn’t work out at one place; it dosen’t define you as a player.
After two solid years in Europe in Israel and Italy, you played last season for Darkhan Garid (Mongolia-Superliga). Did you not get good offers in europe or was it solely a financial decision?
I had some solid offers last season but I had a very minor injury and had to take some time off in August. Once I was ready to return in November, the market was practically closed. Most teams had already picked up their players. I knew that not playing would be a mistake so I went to Mongolia and had an exceptional season.
The few players I have interviewed that played in Mongolia always had an unforgettable experience. What was yours playing there?
Mongolia was a blessing for me. I’ve never received as much love from the fans and a team as I did there. I played for Darkhan Garid and they had the biggest fan base in all of Mongolia. Every game was packed and to this day, I still receive love from the fans. We had our own station for games with great video production. The league has potential and as a whole, it was no cake walk, the competition was very good. Each team had 3 imports and 2 of the 3 were able to play on the court at the same time. Players such as Andre Brown (NBA, Turkey, and Greece), Chu Madabu (NBA and Finland), Mike Anderson (Japan, Ukraine, and Mexico), Steve Pledger (D-League), Dominique Coleman (England), Antonio Jones (Costa Rica), and Jamine Peterson (Greece and D-League) all played in the league. Once the Mongolian basketball league starts posting everything on EuroBasket, it will get more respect in the basketball world because competition wise it was decent. The rules also had an NBA format, so each game was 48 minutes. I finished the year averaging 19.9 points per game, 17 rebounds per game and 3.5 blocks per game.
You obviously want to get back to Europe. Do feel like your overall hard work inside is overlooked a bit because you haven´t averaged in double figures as a scorer in Europe?
My opportunity will come. It’s all about consistency and I am starting to show that. Every year I’ve been the top shot blocker and one of the top rebounders in the league I was at. Now that I am starting to show teams that I can score, really shoot and knock down the mid-range jumper I feel like the sky is the limit.
Let´s talk about your game. You’re a rebound beast and aggressive shot blocker with consistency. How would you describe your game and if you had to to what NBA player would you describe your game to?
I would describe myself as a Kevin Garnett type of player. Long, athletic and active on the defensive end whether it’s blocking shots or rebounding. Offensively, I can knock down the mid-range jump shot or attack the rim with a dunk.
You can do many things on the court, but out of all the many things that you can do, what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t always get noticed on the court?
My offensive ability is a hidden strength. When I first came onto the scene, teams wanted me to just rebound and block shots which I have done consistently. Now teams are seeing that I can push the ball up the court, dish it to the open player, shoot the ball and move well for my size.
If you could describe your game in a few sentences as to why you could help any team now, how would you sell yourself best?
If you’re looking for someone to protect the paint, I’m your guy! I am an elite rim protector that tries to block everything. I never back down and I can rebound at a high level. Offensively, I can play the 4 or the 5 position. I’m great for the pick and roll or high/low action.
Two seasons ago you played for Bawer Matera (Italy-A2 Silver) playing 27 games averaging 7.1ppg, Reb-5(9.2rpg), Blocks-2(1.8bpg), FGP: 44.6%, FT: 78.3%. You were fifth in rebounding and first in blocks in a very competitive league. Do you feel like your play wasn´t noticed as much as it should have been in Europe?
I have faith that I will have more opportunities in Europe. During my season in Italy, I played 23 minutes a game and still was able to lead in those categories. I hope teams will take that into consideration when they look at my season there. Offensively, I’ve grown a lot since then, so I know that everything will work itself out.
How much of a joy was it having a guy around from California in Josh Greene in your second professional season? He made the next jump to the Italian Serie A.
Josh and I still keep in contact to this day. Basketball is a small world, so Josh and I immediately clicked from the start. We had the same flight to Italy together, played against each other in college and knew the same people. He is a great player and in two years overseas (both times in Italy) he has been the top scorer. That says a lot. Any team that gets him is getting one heck of a player and competitor. He can pass, score and most importantly is a student of the game. He’s the guy that’s watching film and always trying to learn and improve.
You then moved to Elitzur Ramla (Israel-National League). How important was it having the only other lone American Vernon Teel around? Did he help digest the short stay in Slovenia better?
I just talked with Vernon a few days ago. He helped me a great deal with adjusting to overseas play in my first year. We still talk often and I pick his brain about basketball any chance I get.
Vernon Teel has been a beast in the last 4 years in the Israeli National league averaging 9,3rpg as 1,93cm. Did he actually give you some extra pointers under the basket?
Vernon Teel will make a first division team very happy when they sign him. He’s a walking triple double and one of the best competitors I’ve ever seen. He plays hard on both ends of the court and is someone you can count on night in and night out. He also gave me a lot of pointers in my first year like, “BLOCK EVERYTHING.” He would tell me that before every game. He always believed in me on the offensive end. He told me that I need to go out there and show people what I can do consistently. I have a lot of respect for Vernon because he tells you like it is. If I needed to pick it up he would tell me without any hesitation.
In college you moved around playing at Cal State Bernardino, Riverside State college and Cal State Los Angeles. Did the mixed experience that you got at all three schools shape you better as a player than had you stayed only at one school?
Playing at a Division II and a junior college was the best thing that could have happened to me. I had a tremendous junior college coach in John Smith, who is now at Cal State Fullerton. He turned me into a fighter and showed me the value of hard work and that nothing in the basketball world comes easy. You have to work for it. Every year I had a chip on my shoulder and eventually I became the top shot blocker in the country, setting my school and conference record, with 4.6 blocks per game and 129 blocks in one season. Div. II has a lot of great players that have turned into big time pros, especially in Europe. So don’t ever be afraid or ashamed to admit that you came from a Div. II because at the end of the day it doesn’t matter where you start. What does matter, is how you perform and what you bring to the game the minute you step foot on the court.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in school that is in the NBA today?
That’s a tough question I’ve played against a lot of great NBA players. I’ll give credit to my brothers I played in the Inland Empire Justin and Jrue Holiday, Also Darren Collison.
If you had to construct your very own NBA Rushmore which 4 NBA legends would you have as the heads?
LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson would complete my NBA Rushmore.
Lebron finally won his first NBA title with the Cavs. Where does this new title place him in the all-time greatest ranking of players?
Lebron is 3rd all time behind Kobe and Michael Jordan. If he continues to win I think he could eventually become the greatest of all time especially if he beats the Warriors for the second straight time.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The Conjuring 2 !!!! Dope scary movie definitely recommend it.
Thanks Jordan for the chat.