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Michigan State alum brings his lessons learned and a willingess to improve to the NBA
Pedigree Plus Practice Equals Power
By John Gardella
Here's what the team that drafts Jason Richardson knows it is getting: a pure athlete with championship pedigree. Here's what might surprise whichever team drafts the Michigan State product: He is willing to work at honing all facets of his game.

Jason Richardson averaged 14.7 ppg in his second year at Michigan State. Ray Amati/NBAE Photos
After shooting poorly in the Final Four for the Spartans, there was a question whether the 6-6 two guard had NBA range. But the 20-year-old impressed during individual workouts.

"Everybody has their shooting slumps but mine unfortunately came during tournament time and I had second thoughts about myself," Richardson said.

But they were only thoughts. After positive feedback from Spartans coach Tom Izzo and Magic Johnson, Michigan State's biggest booster and greatest player ever, Richardson entered the draft and started working on his shot.

"I took 1,000 shots a day last summer," the Saginaw, Mich., native, "and continued to do that this summer and I just wanted to show everybody that I could shoot. But I still have to get better at it and be a consistent shooter and I worked on it a lot this summer."

If Richardson were to develop a consistent jumper, he could turn into one of the more complete players in this year's class given his other attributes. Richardson was a member of Michigan State's national championship team in 2000 as a freshman. He contributed 5.1 points and 4.1 rebounds to a team that was led by NBA players Mateen Cleaves and Morris Peterson. In the championship game versus Florida, Richardson recorded nine points and two rebounds.

But last season, with Cleaves (Detroit) and Peterson (Toronto) graduated to the NBA, Peterson became the team's main option. He led the Spartans in points (486), scoring average (14.7), field goals (182), three-point field goal percentage (40.2), blocks (28) and steals (38). He was a First Team All-Big Ten Conference selection as well as an Associated Press Second Team All-America.

With his skills and 6-6, 220-pound frame, Richardson has drawn comparisons to one of the league's top players, Dallas' Michael Finley. "I think I'm sort of like Michael Finley, but I have a lot of work to go as far as my ballhandling skills and my shooting," Richardson said. "But I think we're very comparable because we can do so many things. We can defend, we can shoot, drive to the basket, both got great leaping ability, but I'm a long ways from him. Hopefully, one day I can be in his path and follow in his footsteps."

With Richardson's work ethic, that path may not be that difficult to follow.

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