At first glance, it's easy to misread Sterlington senior guard Lance Richard. But don't let the calm demeanor and soft voice fool you — hidden underneath the laid-back exterior is a fierce competitive streak.
“Lance is in it to win it,” Sterlington coach Kevin Caballero said. “If that means he has to guard somebody, make a pass or get on the floor, so be it. He's just trying to win the game.”
Richard's desire to excel isn't limited to the basketball court as he has maintained a perfect 4.0 grade point average, while scoring 29 on his ACT.
What separates the fundamentally sound Richard from many high school players is his willingness to contribute in so many ways. He rarely takes a bad shot, seldom turns the ball over, hardly ever gets caught out of position on defense and is genuinely unselfish.
“Lance is the best passer on the team,” Caballero said. “Sometimes we run plays that takes the ball out of his hands as a shooter because he's such a good passer and he doesn't have a problem with that.”
It's not like Richard — a lethal 3-point shooter who is nearly automatic from the free throw stripe — can't score. After being held scoreless in the first half of Tuesday night's District 2-2A opener against Ferriday, Richard exploded for 16 second half points in the Panthers' 79-68 come-from behind victory.
“Lance doesn't say a lot. He just gets the job done,” Caballero said. “Tuesday night was a prime example. He doesn't score in the first half, but he doesn't hang his head. He just keeps playing and all of a sudden he hits three 3s and kind of turns the game around.
“He’s a vital part of this team — one we can’t do without.”
One of Richard's best offensive games came in a first-round playoff victory over Port Barre two years ago.
“Matt (Allred) was hurt and we had to put the ball in Lance's hands and he scored 26 points,” Caballero said.
Richard began his prep career at University High in Baton Rouge. When his father, Keith Richard, was named as ULM's head basketball coach in April of 2010, there was never really any doubt as to where Lance would attend school. Caballero and Keith Richard were junior high and high school teammates at Baton Rouge Redemptorist and Caballero was later an assistant to Richard at Louisiana Tech.
“It kind of puts it in perspective — I've known Lance all his life, now I've had the opportunity to coach him,” Caballero said. “It's been real special.”
NOWN: When did you start playing basketball?
Lance Richard: I've probably been playing basketball ever since I could walk.
My first experience with organized basketball was in the RPAR (Ruston Parks & Recreation) when I was 6 or 7.
NOWN: What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of basketball?
Richard: My favorite part is winning. Losing is my least favorite part.
NOWN: What has it been like growing up as the son of a college coach?
Richard: It's a lot of fun having my dad be able to help me out and be there to support me. He's able to understand what I'm going through as a basketball player.
I've grown up being around college basketball player and being around basketball in general. It's been pretty cool to experience that.
NOWN: Is frequently moving the worst part of being a college coach's son?
Richard: We were very fortunate to be in Ruston the first 14 years of my life. That's something you don't see in coaching very often.
I've only had to move a couple of times, so it hasn't been as hard as it could have been. Still, moving is never fun.
NOWN: I'm on the outside looking in, but your transition to Sterlington appeared to go pretty smooth.
Richard: Sterlington already had a strong foundation and I kind of slid into the mix and added another option.
I've known coach Cab pretty much my whole life, so that made coming here a lot easier.
Derek (Price), Matt (Allred) and I played together in AAU for the Monroe Trojans when I was in the seventh grade, so that definitely helped out a lot.
NOWN: What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Richard: My strengths are passing the ball and shooting.
My weakness is the physical aspects of the game — strength, quickness and athleticism.
NOWN: What area of the game do the Panthers need to improve upon during the second half of the season?
Richard: We need to improve on our rebounding since we're pretty small and we need to cut down on turnovers.
NOWN: What are your team and individual goals for the remainder of the season?
Richard: My first goal is for us to win district, then to win as many games as we can in the playoffs.
Hopefully, we can win enough games to win state.
As far as individual goals, I just want to do whatever I can to help the team win. I really don't have a personal agenda.
NOWN: The core of this team has been together for several years now. Has that made a difference in the team chemistry?
Richard: It helps to know each other's tendencies and to know what we can and can't do on the court.
We don't have any problems off the court.
NOWN: What are you going to miss the most about playing high school basketball?
Richard: I'm going to miss getting to play every minute of every game and being able to play in front of all of my classmates.
NOWN: What are your future plans?
Richard: I'm leaning toward going to ULM, majoring in biology or business and walking on with the basketball team.
As far as a career, I'm looking at becoming a dentist or going into business or coaching.
NOWN: Dentistry and coaching — that's a wide range of professions.
Richard: Coaching and dentistry are two different directions.
I've wanted to coach since I was little. I've seen the flaws of it and how stressful it is.
Being a dentist looks like it would be a stress-free life. There's probably a dentist out there reading this and thinking, 'If he only knew.' But I can promise you, it's not as stressful as being a coach, especially at the college level.
NOWN: Are you more interested in coaching at the college or high school level?
Richard: College, because in high school, you have to teach. I don't think I'm cut out to be a teacher.
By Marq Mitcham
Bastrop Daily Enterprise - Bastrop, LA
By Marq Mitcham
Updated Jan. 11, 2013 @ 12:54 am
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