Hard work pays off for Richardson

Published 9:47 pm Saturday, April 19, 2014

Some basketball players are blessed with great size and an innate ability to shoot the basketball.

De’Angelo Richardson was not.

As a 5-foot-10 shooting guard, Richardson had to rely on quickness, speed, and an insatiable desire to improve his game to become the best. All of those things, he had in spades.

Richardson led Vicksburg High in scoring all three seasons he was on the varsity roster. He averaged 14.7 points per game this season and helped the Gators reach the Class 5A championship game.

It was a rewarding finish to a career built on hard work, made even better by one final honor — the 2014 Vicksburg Post boys basketball Player of the Year Award.

“It means a lot. I’m used to just playing, not getting recognition, so it feels good to get recognized,” Richardson said. “It feels good to make it where we made it. It was a great journey.”

And a remarkable one, considering where Richardson started.

He was a key player on Vicksburg’s freshman team that won the Little Six championship in 2011, but had a lot of holes in his game.

Halfway through his freshman season, coach Kelvin Carter gave Richardson a list of things to work on over the holiday break.

Like any kid with a homework assignment, Richardson went to the internet for help.

“I went on YouTube and watched videos,” Richardson said.

The videos weren’t random highlights, but rather instructional drills on shooting, ballhandling and defense. After taking notes and doing the drills, Richardson was amazed at the results.

“It actually worked,” he said with a laugh. “Now I use YouTube videos every offseason.”

Richardson isn’t just an idle viewer, though. A self-described perfectionist, he said he shoots at least 100 shots from the field and a few dozen free throws every day.

His signature move is a quick catch-and-release 3-point shot, which was also developed through years of repetition and practice.

“He’s the hardest worker we have, and he’s our go-to guy. When things get tight, he’s the one we look to to deliver. All of them are good, but he’s a step above the rest,” Vicksburg coach Dellie C. Robinson said. “You can’t get him out of the gym.”

Thanks largely to Richardson, it was hard to get the Gators off the court this season, too.

He was the Gators’ sparkplug all season long, starting key runs in a number of games with big shots. As the stakes got higher, he also got better.

He averaged a team-high 16.1 points in seven playoff games, and scored 28 in a Class 5A semifinal win over Pascagoula.

The Gators came up short in the state championship game, losing 49-33 to Callaway, but still had a remarkable season.

Despite not having a player on the roster over 6-foot-4, the Gators finished 19-9. Five of the losses were to Callaway, which went 31-1 and won its third consecutive Class 5A title.

“Thinking about it, it does feel good,” Richardson said of Vicksburg’s season. “I didn’t realize how small we were. It gives you a sense of how good you are. You have to be pretty good to play with those guys.”

Richardson’s next move is to the junior college ranks. He and his VHS backcourt mate, Edward Davis, have both signed with Holmes Community College.

It’s another challenge for Richardson, but certainly one he’s embracing.

“It’s cool, because it’s like starting all over,” he said. “In this sense, you know your identity instead of having to find it like before.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured sports reporters in the paper's 137-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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