A glimpse inside Malachi Richardson’s mind the day before the NBA Draft

first_imgNEW YORK – At 1:12 p.m., 12 minutes past his scheduled media availability start time, Malachi Richardson strolled into the Manhattan Ballroom at the Grand Hyatt hotel as the last of nine prospects in interview Group B to arrive. He was ushered over to his station, an elevated table and brown cushioned chair next to Utah’s Jakob Poeltl in one corner of the room, finally able to relax. It’s one day before the NBA Draft and Richardson hasn’t done much of that lately.On Wednesday he exuded a mixture of haste and calm. He hadn’t eaten anything yet and didn’t throughout his 19-minute interview session. The last few weeks he’s been living out of suitcases, bouncing across the country from hotel room to hotel room. At 2 p.m., he’ll be taken to Basketball City in New York City along with the other prospects to guide a youth clinic. Life never slows down for a soon-to-be professional.At the same time, Richardson can finally exhale. His workouts with NBA teams are done. He’s shown them everything he wanted to that raised questions following his freshman season at Syracuse: that he can play man-to-man, that he can develop a more consistent jumper, that he’s deserving of a lottery selection. It’s less than 33 hours before his dream becomes a reality, the moment he’s been waiting for finally coming to fruition.“It’s definitely surreal,” Richardson said. “Who ever would’ve thought this would be happening right now?”The answer to that: nobody, at least as of a little less than three months ago. Then the Elite Eight happened, and Richardson appeared on draft boards before skyrocketing up them in the following weeks. But the 20-year-old doesn’t pay mind to draft boards. He doesn’t pay mind to those who vowed he’d rue the day when he decided to turn pro. He doesn’t pay mind to much of anything besides what he thinks of the Richardson others are just starting to grow accustomed to, but the one he’s known could get here all along.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHis words border the line between confidence and cockiness, each affirmation delivering an invisible dagger to a doubt he’s faced in the past.“For people to say or think I wasn’t going to be drafted or anything like that is just nonsense.”“I’m a good athlete and I’m not worried about whether people think that.”“I make shots. People have to do a better job of watching our games instead of just not knowing anything about Syracuse and then looking at stats.”The stats tell one story. More turnovers than assists. A 3-point percentage barely eclipsing 35 percent. Several nonexistent first halves, including a paltry 0-for-11 mark from 3 in Syracuse’s worst loss of the season, a 84-72 embarrassment to St. John’s.Richardson wants to write a different story. Not just one that will add a chapter when he’s drafted, but one whose prologue is based more on the eye test rather than concrete numbers, one that he knows comes to a reassuring conclusion somewhere down the line.“I could take 10 half-court shots but if you don’t watch us play you wont know,” Richardson said. “You’ll just say, ‘He shoots 10 percent.’ Our games tell a different story.”On Thursday night, Richardson will finally receive tangible validation on his journey. He hasn’t slept the past couple of days, instead lying in bed and envisioning the words “Malachi Richardson” boom throughout the Barclays Center from commissioner Adam Silver’s mouth.He refused to even hint at what he’ll wear but promises a treat. Even before the draft he wears a white Ralph Lauren polo buttoned all the way to the top while a beige checkered wallet hangs from his belt with “some cash and cards” inside. He chuckles when saying the only thing he won’t miss about Syracuse is going to class.Malachi Richardson seems like a 20-year-old on the verge of turning pro.“The team that’s most interested will pick me,” he says with a wide grin. “Being able to be invited to the green room is something that a lot of people can’t always do. I just don’t wanna be the last person there.” Comments Published on June 22, 2016 at 5:25 pm Contact Matt: [email protected] | @matt_schneidman Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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