Richmond Aririguzoh (206-C-1998, college: Princeton) is a 23 year old 206cm forward from Nigeria that is playing his second professional season and first in Germany with the Hakro Merlins Crailsheim. He played his rookie season with Horsens IC (Denmark-BasketLigaen) playing 31 games avergaing 10.6ppg, 5.8rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 58.4%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 80.0%. He began his basketball career with Trenton Catholic Academy an dthen played at Princeton University (NCAA) from 2016-2020 playing a total of 96 NCAA games. In his last two seasons he averaged 12.1ppg, 6.4rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 69.7%, FT: 75.8% and 12.0ppg, 7.4rpg, 2.2apg, FGP: 62.0%, FT: 65.4%. He spoke to eurobasket about basketball.
Thanks Richmond for talking to eurobasket.com. Your playing your second professional season and first in Germany with the Hakro Merlins. It has been a magical season with the Fiba Europe Cup run and playing for the playoffs. Can a mood swing 180 degrees when you MVP candidate TJ Shorts gets injured?
First and foremost, we all hope and pray for a speedy recovery for TJ. As long as it concerns the team and our goals moving forward, losing him for the rest of the season is definitely a big blow, especially as we have rallied behind him time and time again. However, all of us on the team can acknowledge that but also remain focused on the task ahead of making the BBL playoffs.
How is the team mentality at the moment. TJ Shorts is without a doubt the guy that carries the club. How is the mood in the team? The club has some real veterans with Harris, Stuckey and Radosavljevic.
That veteran leadership is going to be crucial for us in this last stretch of the season. They know we have a job to do and we’re going to follow their lead
Could it be beneficial as opponents mentality may turn and possibly not take the team as seriously knowing that TJ Shorts is out?
I would never say that an injury is beneficial. I also think teams in this league know that each team has quality players and overlooking any opponent for any reason could easily cost you games. We’re not expecting teams to ‘ease up’ when they’re about to play us.
The Hakro Merlins had a great Fiba Europe Cup run. You had some good games against Antwerp and Leiden. What did you enjoy the most about the competition?
I think being in so many different countries was definitely one of the highlights of playing in the Fiba Europe Cup. Playing against different teams whose styles can differ a lot from what we’re used to seeing in the BBL was also pretty interesting. Being able to get to the quarterfinals with this club, who cherished playing in its first European competition, was enjoyable
How tough has it been for you coming from getting good minutes the last three years to getting only 11-12 minutes this season. Has it been like starting over a bit. What has been the biggest challenge for sitting more?
I knew my role was going to be different when I agreed to come to Crailsheim. I would not say it has been like starting over or there has been a particular challenge to sitting more. For me, it has been about finding a good rhythm and excelling in those minutes.
Let’s talk a bit about your game. You’re a 206cm center. If you had to compare your game to a NBA player who would best fit the description?
I haven’t given much thought to NBA player comparisons. These days I try to be the best version of Richmond Aririguzoh, as opposed to modeling my game after someone else.
You’re a guy that can score and rebound. What other aspects does your game incorporate that allows you to be successful?
My calling card this year has definitely been my defense, both individually and team wise. I’ve been able to adjust to the higher caliber of talent and be effective guarding 1on1 and anchoring our defense.
Last season in Denmark you had some games with 3 blocks and a game with 5 blocks. Your first 3 block game came last week against Wurzburg. How have you seen your defensive development since you turned pro? What kind of defender do you still want to become?
Since I’ve turned pro I’ve had to become both a smarter defender and a more athletic defender. The game can be so cerebral at times so I’ve had to learn (and I’m still learning) to be a step ahead to make the right play. I’ve also had to work on my athleticism to be able to get some of those blocks or guard smaller players for stints.
On what area of your game are you working on most now so that you can continue to climb the basketball ladder?
Probably my basketball IQ
You played your rookie season with Horsens IC (Denmark-BasketLigaen) playing 31 games averaging 10.6ppg, 5.8rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 58.4%, 3PT: 25.0%, FT: 80.0%. What do you remember being your wake up call where you knew that you were very far away from home?
Spending my Christmas away from my family was probably the earliest reminder that I was so far away.
Last season in Denmark you reached two finals. How important was it for your game playing two long playoffs series against Randers and Bakken?
It was huge. I’ve never played in a drawn out playoff format so it was definitely a great introduction for me. Another reminder of how hard it is to win.
You have had many great games in your career but where do you rank that 27 point game against Randers? You were 10/10 from the field and made the only three you ever took since starting at Princeton in 2016.
That game is up there for sure, especially because we were tied in that series and we needed that win on our home floor. To be able to play well and get the win in a meaningful game like that is always special.
You played 95 NCAA games for Princeton. Was winning the 2017 Ivy league title your biggest achievement there?
I would say so. Even though I was just a freshman, I really enjoyed that year and that run. It was a really cool introduction to college basketball.
In your first two seasons there was ex NBA player Kerry Kittles was an assistant coach. What memories do you have of him there and what kind of a role did he play for the success?
Having a former NBA pro on your coaching staff is a surreal experience. I remember him being really supportive and encouraging of our individual growth skill-wise. He brought a ton of knowledge and gems about what he thought the most important qualities for making it to the next level were.
In your junior year you lost by 51 points to Duke (NCAA). What memories do you have of playing against Zion Williamson. Was he in beast mode?
haha, I don’t like to think too much about that game but Zion was definitely incredible even up close. The most noticeable thing that I remember is the physicality that he played with.
Against ASU you hauled down 18 rebounds. What does it mean to you getting the second most rebounds in 44 years in school history?
It’s a bit bittersweet because we ended up losing that game on a last second three pointer, but I’m obviously proud of that achievement.
How did head coach Mitch Henderson groom and prepare you best for a professional career?
The tough non-conference schedule was probably the best gift he could give us to prepare us for a potential professional career. Playing against future pros from power 5 conference schools was a solid test to see where I was at as a player.
Who wins a one on one in practice you or Bogdan Radosavljevic?
haha, no clue. Hasn’t happened yet.
Who was the toughest player that you faced in the NCAA that went to the NBA?
Zion Williamson is the easy answer. Aside from him I would probably say Chimezie Metu, who’s now with the Sacramento Kings. I played him my sophomore year when he was at the University of Southern California.
Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?
Ok, disclaimer: I’m going to include names from high school up until last year in Denmark. My list doesn’t really have to do with talent but more with leadership, competitiveness, unselfishness, etc.
Myles Powell (Trenton Catholic Academy); Amir Bell, Devin Cannady, and Charlie Bagin (Princeton); Charles Callison (Horsens IC).
Please list your personal NBA Mount Rushmore?
In no particular order: Kareem, Bill Russell, MJ, and LeBron
What is your personal opinion of the neverending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Jordan or Lebron?
I think it’s a fun debate to have with your friends and teammates but outside of that, it doesn’t really make sense to compare the two to try to find a definitive GOAT. I would rather just appreciate both and their own greatness
Did you see the sequel to the classic Coming To America? Shouldn’t they have left it alone?
I saw it last season while I was in Denmark. The first one was played religiously in my household when I was growing up so I can see why people thought a sequel shouldn’t have happened. To me, the sequel wasn’t too bad.
Thanks Richmond for the chat.