Richmond Signs With Rockets

GREENVILLE, N.C. — Former ECU sharpshooter Akeem Richmond signed with Houston Rockets Saturday morning.

Former East Carolina shooting guard Akeem Richmond confirmed to Inside ECU Sports Saturday morning that he has signed with the Houston Rockets; becoming the first Pirate to appear on an NBA roster since Jonathan Kerner in 2001.

Despite spending just two years at ECU, Richmond is the school’s all-time leader in 3-pointers — after he led all Division I players with 155 three-point field goals last season — and ranks seventh in NCAA history in 3’s (416).

“They know they are getting a real good shooter,” Richmond said. “They obviously wanted to develop my point guard skills, but I guess they feel like I’m worth the risk since I can shoot the basketball so well.”

Ever since ECU was knocked out in the first round of the CIT Tournament in March, the 6-foot, 180-pound sharpshooter from Sanford, N.C. worked out diligently with former NBA player Brandon Hunter in Cincinnati. His lone pre-draft workout was with the Rockets in June and Richmond told Inside ECU Sports in a phone interview this summer that it “really couldn't have gone any better.”

Four months after the fact, Richmond said, “I really did have a really good workout. I kind of felt like, ‘Dang, I worked out that well and they are not going to try and sign me?’ I knew it would pay off.”

Richmond says the Rockets expressed interest in bringing him in just before the start of training camp, but quickly got discouraged when a few weeks passed and his phone stayed silent.

“It’s been a stressful process,” Richmond said. “I thought it would have been a great opportunity, so I was down.”

But with less than a week until the start of the NBA season, Richmond’s agent got a phone call and it did not take long for the two sides agreed to terms.

“They called me Friday around 8 p.m. and told me to pack my bags,” said Richmond, “and that was all she wrote.”

A few hours later, Richmond was on a plane to to Houston, where he met with Rockets offcials Saturday morning to sign his first professional contract.

Although there have been five Pirates selected in the NBA Draft — dating back to Bobby Hodges in 1954 — just three of the school’s alumni (Kerner, Theodore “Blue” Edwards and Oliver Mack) have played in the league.

“It’s hard to believe,” said Richmond upon learning that stat. “I honestly thank God, my family and Coach (Jeff) Lebo for giving me the opportunity to shine at East Carolina University.”

The signature moment of Richmond’s collegiate career was his game winning 3-pointer as time expired at Weber State in the 2013 CIT Championship Game. It was the Pirates’ first postseason tournament title.

As a senior, Richmond had a pair of games in which he drained double-figure 3-pointers, which includes a come-from-behind win in the Conference USA Tournament where he supplied 11 3’s and 36 points against UTSA. His standout season earned him an invitation to the 2014 State Farm College Slam Dunk & 3-Point Championships, where he finished in the semifinals.

In addition to going through the process of trying to impress NBA teams, Richmond also learned he is going to be the father of a baby girl in the near future.

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