by Matthew Brennan, D-League.com
|Jeremy Richardson holds his MVP trophy after scoring a game-high 22 points.
Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images
NEW ORLEANS, February 16 - Jeremy Richardson of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants has become well-known to D-League fans (and NBA scouts and GMs) since he started his D-League career last season with Fort Worth. The 6-7 swingman, who arrived in the professional ranks in unheralded fashion after a college career at D-II Delta State, was a first-team All-D-League performer last season and has received GATORADE Call-Ups from four teams. He added the latest accomplishment to his D-League resume on Saturday when he was named MVP of the 2008 D-League All-Star Game presented by Spalding.
"It feels good to win something like this, coming from where I come from," said Richardson. "I just tried to come in here and have fun. The shots where falling tonight and I have to thank God for that."
Richardson led all scorers with 22 points on Saturday, leading his Blue Team to a 117-99 victory over the Red Team. He displayed the shooting touch that has placed him in demand with NBA teams looking for scoring, shooting 9-15 from the field and knocking down two three-pointers in four attempts.
"I was just trying to be aggressive", said Richardson who also played in last season's D-League All-Star Game in Las Vegas. "In the end of the day it worked out for me when it came to winning the award."
Halfway through the 2007-08 season, Richardson has already received GATORADE Call-Ups from the Memphis Grizzlies and the San Antonio Spurs. In between his NBA stints, he is averaging 25.4 points per game this season, which places him second behind Morris Almond among current D-League players. Arriving last season as an undrafted rookie out of a small school, Richardson is quick to credit the D-League for helping his name get on the radar of NBA teams.
"If it wasn't for the D-League I probably would have never gotten a chance from an NBA team", said Richardson as he held his MVP trophy. "I have to give a lot of credit to the D-League. It helped me out and that is the case for a lot of players out here. Everybody out here is talented and has a chance to make it to the NBA. There's a lot of competition out here."
Richardson has experience plenty of success in his career, but he is not resting on his laurels. He is still trying to improve his game through hard work and effort in order to reach his ultimate goal of signing a long-term NBA contract, following in the footsteps of a D-League success story like Golden State's Kelenna Azubuike or Charlotte's Matt Carroll.
"I'm still trying to work on everything, people say I can shoot pretty well but I am still working on that, said Richardson. "I work on shooting every day so that I can still improve. I'm a hard worker, I'm still trying to improve every facet of my game. I'm going to keep working on everything so that I can establish myself as an NBA player."
The D-League's best got a chance to show their skills on one of the NBA's biggest stages on Saturday, but now they will head back to their respective teams and get back to working toward their goal of reaching the NBA. Richardson is no exception, as will head to Southern California to join the Mad Ants for a game on Monday night and get back to the grind of the D-League regular season.
"It would be cool to check out the NBA All-Star Game", he said. "But I've got a game on Monday against the Arsenal, so I'm leaving at six o'clock tomorrow morning."