One of the top big man targets for the Nevada basketball team will take an official visit to campus this weekend.
Isaiah Richards, a 6-foot-10, 215-pound late-blooming center, will visit the Wolf Pack starting Sunday, and he's looking forward to the scenery.
“I’ve never been to Nevada," Richards told Nevada Sports Net this week. "I think it’s a big, outdoor, backyard kind of place with a great lake.”
Richards is an athletic big man from Brooklyn, N.Y., who has largely flown under the radar despite his immense potential. He was once ranked as a four-star recruit by ESPN but now checks in as a two-star recruit by the site. He doesn't have profile pages on 247Sports or Rivals. Richards verbally committed to Florida International in December 2018 but never attended the school and is currently at a postgraduate program.
“He’s got a lot of upside," his prep coach, Anthony Taylor, said. "He’s long, he can defend, he’s really active and plays hard and is very athletic for a guy of that size. He has a lot of potential.”
Richards' only current scholarship offers are from Nevada and UTEP, although he said he's getting interest from Arkansas, Georgia, LSU, Virginia Tech and Tulsa, among other school.s
As a sophomore, Richards averaged 12 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks per game at South Shore High School, leading the Vikings to their first Public School Athletic League Class AA championship last season. He averaged 6.8 points and 8.5 rebounds as a junior playing alongside college-level players like Kadary Richmond and Femi Odukale, who are both class of 2020 recruits. Richards was planning on transferring to Butler High in Matthews, N.C., last season before eventually returning to South Shore.
This season, Richards will play for the post-graduate school TaylorMade Academy in Metairie, La. He was originally a class of 2019 recruit but opted for another prep season rather than attending FIU.
“I wanted to weigh my options and use another year to better myself," Richards said. "I just want to be more consistent."
Given his circuitous route, Richards has fallen under the recruiting radar, but he has an intriguing combination of size, length and athleticism. Nevada extended a scholarship offer in July, although that was a surprise for Richards.
“Honestly, I do not know how they found me," Richards said. "I don’t know. One day I was practicing and they came to see me and they gave me an offer. I don’t know how they heard of me.”
Richards said Nevada assistant coaches Craig Neal and Bil Duany were the ones who watched him practice and extended the offer. Steve Alford's track record of developing raw players could help Nevada's pitch.
“Coach Alford has shown they can develop guys, they can create high-level players and get guys to a professional career," Taylor said. "I think it’s important for Isaiah to find a staff who can help develop him."
Richards said he isn't rushing into making a decision on his college. He doesn't have a firm timeline for when he'd like to commit to a college and doesn't know if he'll sign in the November period or the April period.
“It’s kind of open right now," Richards said. "I’ll have to talk to my mom about it because there are other schools coming trying to contact me. I’m highly interested in Nevada, but I’m pretty open right now.”
Taylor said Richards' commitment to FIU impacted the teams that were interested in him.
“He was a four-star recruit and I think a lot of people saw he was committed to FIU and all the coaches assumed he’d go there and then he made his decision not to go there and now a lot of people are figuring, ‘Hey, he’s available,’ and stuff like that," Taylor said. "Once we get going (with our season), I have no doubt he’ll have a plethora of interest from a lot of schools and then he’ll just have to figure out what his best fit is.”
Richards was more focused on music and dancing early in his life, but eventually realized how important basketball could be in providing for him.
“The thing that made me focused was the doors it could open, doors I never thought could be opened," Richards said. "I just had kind of approached it like everything else until I realized the doors it could open.”
The Wolf Pack has two committed players in its 2020 class in PG/SG Alem Huseinovic (6-3/180) and PF DeAndre Henry (6-8/230). Nevada has three additional open scholarships in the class. You can look at Nevada's entire 2020 class here.