Richmond Sets Sights on NBA

ECU shooting guard Akeem Richmond participated in a two-hour pre-draft workout with the Houston Rockets Wednesday.

Akeem Richmond sat in an office at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning, nervously awaiting his first NBA pre-draft workout with the Houston Rockets.

Looking to make a good first impression, East Carolina's all-time leader in three-pointers was outfitted in a collared shirt and khakis, before he went through a car wash of different written tests and interviews with the team's coaches and front office.

"If you're down two and we put the ball into your hands, what would you do? If you miss a shot, and you're down two and the media blames you for the loss for missing the shot, how do you handle that?" Richmond recounted some of the questions he was asked.

Then it was off to the training room, where the six-foot Sanford, N.C. native changed into more comfortable clothing and was next measured, weighted and asked to do a vertical leap. It wasn't until after that Richmond could at last focus on what he had devoted the previous 17 years of his life to: basketball.

But as he walked towards the Rockets' practice courts, his focus shifted once again.

"As soon as I turned the corner to go into the practice facility, that's when I saw James Harden. I was star struck," Richmond said in a phone interview with "Me being from a smaller school, I guess I wasn't used to that. So I was just staring at him for like five minutes."

However, rather than having the presence of one of his basketball heroes negatively affect his workout, it actually enhanced it — he said, "it built my confidence. When I saw him, I said ‘I'm ready to hoop. I'm ready to show him and all these other guys that I belong.'"

Richmond then went through several drills in a two-hour workout that tested his ball-handling, ability to come off pick-and-rolls and screens, as well as his scoring at the rim. It was all about basketball again and he was pleased with his outing.

"It really couldn't have gone any better than it did today," said Richmond. "That was the workout I always dreamed of. I made a lot of shots."

Then, it was finished. There wasn't much conversation afterward, just a friendly "thank you for coming" and "we'll be in touch with you and your agent."

According to Richmond, the Charlotte Hornets and the Boston Celtics have also shown interest in him and could have him workout as early as next week.

If Richmond was to be selected during the NBA Draft on June 26, he would be the first ECU player drafted since Blue Edwards was taken 21st overall by the Utah Jazz in the 1989 draft and just the sixth ever. The last Pirate to play in the NBA was Jonathan Kerner (1998-2001).

Since the Pirates' first-round exit in the Postseason Tournament, Richmond graduated from ECU and then turned up the intensity on his training — working out in Cincinnati with former NBA player Brandon Hunter, who he has leaned on for advice.

"He knows the ins and the outs (of basketball). He's also played overseas just in case I have to take that route," said Richmond. "He knows about the NBA and overseas, so it's the best of both worlds."

Although it has been such a lengthy drought since an ECU hooper has appeared in the NBA, it should come as no surprise that teams have shown interest in Richmond, who proved to be one of the nation's most prolific three-point shooters at ECU.

He is one of 13 players in NCAA history to make at least 400 3-pointers in a career and broke ECU's single-season and career marks for 3's in just the two years he played in a Pirate uniform.

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