Men's Basketball

5-star wing Richardson verbally commits to Orange

Jesse Dougherty | Asst. Copy Editor

Five-star wing Malachi Richardson announced his commitment to Syracuse on Friday. Richardson cited coaching staff, academic reputation and proximity to his home as reasons for choosing SU.

TRENTON, N.J. — Tucked deep in a Trenton neighborhood, around 75 people huddled into Trenton Catholic (N.J.) Academy’s one-room library for Malachi Richardson’s college announcement Friday afternoon.

There wasn’t much fanfare. Only a handful of reporters, school officials, teammates and, of course, Richardson’s family, standing shoulder to shoulder waiting for Richardson to choose a school.

“It has been a long process for my family and I,” Richardson said, sandwiched between his parents, Lewis and Jackie Richardson. “And I have decided to continue my education and basketball career…”

He stopped and Jackie pulled a black bag out from under the table. The hat was stuck, and those close to the table craned their necks to see what colors the bag would reveal.

Orange and blue. The small crowd erupted.

Richardson situated a Syracuse snapback on his head and with that, the five-star wing became the second player to verbally commit to SU for 2015. He joins forward Tyler Lydon from The New Hampton (N.H.) School, who committed on Oct. 17.

The 6-foot-5, 203-pound Richardson, also received offers from Arizona, Rutgers, Villanova, Indiana and Connecticut, but chose Syracuse because of its coaching staff, academic reputation and proximity to his home. He is ranked 12th on ESPNU’s 2015 top 60 list, and according to Scout.com’s rankings, is the third best at his position in the Class of 2015.

“Jim Boeheim is a great coach,” Richardson said. “Also having my parents close with not too far of a ride is good. I love everything about Syracuse.”

In verbally committing to the Orange, the New Jersey native follows freshmen Tyler Roberson — who attended Roselle (N.J.) Catholic — and Tyler Ennis, who finished his high school career at St. Benedict’s (N.J.) Prep, as players who attended high school in New Jersey and committed to Syracuse. Richardson and Roberson were teammates at Roselle Catholic last year before Richardson transferred back to Trenton Catholic, where he also spent his freshman season.

Richardson visited campus two weeks ago, and was on hand for SU’s 69-52 win over Indiana on Dec. 3.

He and Trenton Catholic head coach Fred Falchi pinpointed his shooting ability as his greatest strength, but had a little more trouble finding a blaring weakness.

Lewis Richardson, deferred to his wife for a laundry list of things that his son needs to improve on.

“Weaknesses?” Lewis Richardson said. “Whatever his mother says. You have to ask her.”

Rebounding. Strength. On-ball defense. Off-ball defense.

Jackie Richardson rattled off her son’s deficiencies with a grin spread across her face. While he fielded questions from reporters after announcing his decision, she sat to his right and threw in a few answers of her own.

Are you a momma’s boy Malachi?

“Yes he is,” Jackie interjected.

What are you going to do tonight? Any celebrating?

“He’s going to the gym,” she added, before Richardson nodded in agreement.

And when Richardson shamelessly confessed that he looks up to her and admires her strength, she started to tear up.

“I don’t see him like everyone else,” Jackie Richardson said. “He’s a really strong student, a lot of people don’t know that, but I am really proud of him for that.”

For every A that Richardson gets on his report card, Jackie will give him $100. But in order to get the money, he has to get A’s in all eight of his classes.

It’s $800 or bust, and Richardson is scratching at the surface.

“He has five,” Jackie said. “Right now he’s three away and now that coaches won’t be calling as much he can focus a little more on that.”

After questions subsided and the photographers put their cameras down, Richardson towered over a crowd of Trenton Catholic students that gave him high-fives and hugs.

He asked a younger player if he “was going to see something tonight”, laughed with coaches and asked for extra pictures with members of his family.

He still has two years before stepping onto the Carrier Dome court and in the short term, a second straight New Jersey state title to chase. Dressed in khakis, Jordan 12’s, a Trenton Catholic sweater and a slick bow tie, he walked through the library like nothing had happened.

Because really, the only thing different about Richardson is that he has a new hat atop his head.

“If fits good,” Richardson said with a smile, “this is all a big relief.”

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