Richaud Gittens is a 6-foot-4, 190-pound senior SG who attends Marcos de Niza HS and committed to Weber State University this fall. In my opinion, Richaud is one of the best seniors in the state overall. He is an elite athlete with a smooth lefty jumper out to the 3-point stripe. He also has a mature body and is very good at anticipating passes and picking up steals. He still has room to grow in his overall game for the future. The scary thing is, Richaud is also one of the youngest seniors in the state - still only a mere 16 years of age.
Here is a conversation he had recently with Arizona Preps (AP) ...
AP: Tell me about your family.
Richaud: My mom is a work-alcoholic. She basically works all the time along with my dad too. We moved here from Massachusetts when I was 5.
AP: Why did you start playing basketball?
Richaud: I was just watching it on TV when I was a little kid, and I got that dream of playing the sport.
AP: Was it a family-related decision to play basketball?
Richaud: No, most of my family grew up playing football. But I wanted to play basketball. I think it’s working out for me so far.
AP: When was your 1st dunk ever?
Richaud: My 1st dunk was my sophomore year towards the beginning of the year. I was dunking in practice, so my coaches told me to dunk in a game. So, on a fast break I rose up and dunked the ball. I was kind of surprised. It was crazy; the whole place was going crazy. It was in a varsity game.
AP: 1st time you knew you were good?
Richaud: I honestly don’t think I’m that good now. People tell me that I’m good. I try to keep a level head and stay humble and focus.
AP: What weakness would you want to improve before you play college?
Richaud: I want to work on my shot and my right hand. I’ve been working on my right hand a lot. It’s gotten better, but I just want to perfect it to the point that it becomes like second nature to me. And just shooting; my shot has gotten a little better, but it’s not where I want it to be or needs to be at for the college level. Those are the 2 main areas I want to improve.
AP: Tell me about your recruiting process? Was it stressful or fun? Did you like the attention or was it something you had to do?
Richaud: Ya, it was all of that. It was fun for the most part - meeting all those coaches, but it got stressful to the point after club-ball all the coaches were texting me about if I am going to make a decision or when are you going to go on your visits. It was really overwhelming. I was stressed for a while, but it’s the greatest process to ever go through for an athlete. I can’t explain it; it just was real cool.
AP: Why did you choose Weber State University? Was it the location, coaching staff, academics or comfort level?
Richaud: It was a mixture of all of that. I was coming from the AZ Stars, which is now affiliated with the Compton Magic. We were a real tight-nit family group and did everything together, and know there is no “I” in team. So, when I went down there, I was looking for the whole family atmosphere. I was trying to see if I felt comfortable down there, and it was everything I expected it to be. It was fun, the weather was great and they treated me like a family member.
AP: Did Damian Lilliard show you around at all or did you meet him?
Richaud: I got to see him when I went down there. The 1st day I got there I was hanging out with the coaching staff, and the 2nd day I went there, I went to the gym and he showed up and I talked to him for a little bit. He's a real good guy, and he was telling me the whole process. Like sometimes you are going to get down and not want to do it, but just go through it at all times and get your focus up and studies done and everything else will fall into place.
AP: Do you have a pre-game meal?
Richaud: I like to eat all the fruit and drink a lot of water. For me it helps me get natural energy. It just helps me get ready for games.
AP: What is your favorite food?
Richaud: Mac-n-cheese is my favorite food. My mom makes it all the time and I love it.
AP: What is your favorite video game?
Richaud: 2k, of course 2k!
AP: If you are not playing basketball, what are you doing?
Richaud: Hanging out with my friends. I try to keep the level where I don’t desert my friends. I also like hanging out with my family, because in college I won’t be able to be with them. The time I have right now is to cherish the time I have with my family and friends.
AP: What is your ultimate goal for your team? And then what is your personal goal?
Richaud: Last year wasn’t a great year, but we have a better team this year. My goal for the team is to make the playoffs and shock a lot of people. We got some kids moving up from JV and Sean Wood transferred in. Devin White and I have to help them out and have them realize that varsity is not easy. It’s not JV or freshman ball anymore. Guys are faster, smarter and everything has to be precise. But I feel comfortable that they’re ready. My personal goal for me was signing at Weber State. My family doesn’t have to pay for college. Also, I would love to get on the all-state team. I don’t need to score 40 points a night - I just want to help my team out with assists, steals and rebounds. Anything I can do to help my team win. Points will come within the flow of the game, so I’m not worried about that.
AP: What do you think will take to make the playoffs or a make a deep run?
Richaud: That’s a real good question. I think when we lose games, the team we play doesn’t beat us - we beat ourselves. So turnovers or bad passes. And it’s not the coaches, it’s us playing out there. People like to blame the coaches. You can’t blame them, it's us playing out there. We need to play smart at all times and we need to do one thing at a time. If we are down by 10, there is no 10-point play. We have to score a little by little, and eventually we will catch up and get the lead back.
AP: Knowing what you know now, what would you change, if anything at all, if you could start your HS basketball career over again?
Richaud: I think its kind of cool that if a person is not ready that you can reclassify and get stronger and get better for another year. I thought about doing it in 8th grade, but I didn’t do it as my coaches thought I would be fine and just work hard. I could of easily reclassified to the 2014 class. I will be the youngest player in college next year possibly. I am only 16 years old right now and won’t turn 17 until December 19th. I’m not going to let that affect my game, just because I’m a little younger then some of the players.
AP: Any last things you want to say to ArizonaPreps?
Richaud: I just want to thank God for watching over me, and give a shout-out to all my friends like Jaron Hopkins, DJ Henderson and Jalen Richard and guys like that. I hope they all have great seasons this year, and they are all great character guys and I know they will be successful. I just want to say good luck to them after HS and going into college. Thank you!