Next year’s Syracuse Orange basketball recruiting class is one that Jim Boeheim has called one of the best he’s ever brought to the Hill, and a big part of the reason for that statement is 6-foot-6 shooting guard Malachi Richardson. Richardson has been collecting accolades like baseball cards (is that something people still collect?) and he can add one more to the list: Gatorade New Jersey Player of the Year.
Richardson has already been named as McDonald’s All-American, and will also participate in the Jordan Brand Classic. The swingman from Trenton Catholic averaged 18.7 points per game as a senior, leading his team to the state semifinals where they fell to Isaiah Briscoe and Roselle Catholic despite 21 points from Richardson.
The sharp shooting perimeter player buried 74 three pointers in 27 games this year, and his outside prowess will be a welcome addition to the Orange roster next season. Syracuse struggled to make shots from the perimeter in 2014-2015, and that was a large part of the reason the team limped to an 18-13 record. However, with the additions of Richardson and fellow freshman Tyler Lydon, the Orange could potentially have one of the better three point shooting teams in recent memory if the two first year players perform to expectations and Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije can gain a little more consistency from beyond the arc.
Richardson scored in double-figures in all but one game during his senior year, with the only single digit performance being eight points in a blowout victory. He also made at least one three pointer in every game, and drilled five threes in the loss to Roselle Catholic in the state tournament.
With the transfers of BJ Johnson and Buss Patterson, the door is certainly open for the highly touted guard to make an immediate impact next season. He’ll immediately be the team’s top reserve on the perimeter, and depending on how the point guard situation shakes out (specifically whether Kaleb Joseph or Gbinije is handed the reins next season) could ultimately work his way into the starting lineup, should the Orange choose to go with a smaller lineup that includes Gbinije, Cooney, and Richardson. That seems unlikely, but is certainly at least a slight possibility.
Richardson is one of two players from New Jersey signed by the Orange in this recruiting class. Moustapha Diagne will play in the Jordan Brand Regional game, and is playing on Saturday in the semifinals of the New Jersey state Tournament of Champions. Diagne’s Pope John squad is the 2-seed, with Roselle Catholic holding the top seed in the tournament.