USA: Richard Hendrix Spotlight

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo – Richard Hendrix is on a mission this week at the 2004 USA Basketball Youth Development Festival. He didn't get enough respect at last year's event here, so he's out to prove his worth to the USA Basketball staff. And this is how a consensus Top 5 player stays motivated to play hard and improve.

"The first time around we won it all, but I didn't get as much playing time as I'd like," Hendrix said Thursday evening at the Sports Center II complex at USA Olympic Headquarters. "This time I'm coming back with a memory of that and trying to make sure that doesn't' happen."

Of course, it won't happen again. There's no better post player among the 48 campers than the 6-8 big man from Athens, Ala.

"I've got a little faster, a little stronger, can jump a little bit better and have more confidence in my outside shooting," he said. "I think I've improved a good deal in the last year."

He's being modest, but that's the type of person Richard Hendrix is. Well grounded, personable, hard-working and modest.

Hendrix's personality meshed well with fellow UNC recruit Tyler Hansbrough. The two roomed together earlier this week at the Nike Elite Skills Camp in Oregon, an apparent result of a room assignment by alphabetical order.

"I got to know him – he's a real nice guy," Hendrix said of Hansbrough. "We talked about things, but not that much about college. I got to know him better as a person."

And got to know him better as a ballplayer. When asked which of the 15 star campers in Oregon impressed him the most, the first name out of Hendrix's mouth was his roommate.

"I was impressed with Tyler Hansbrough," he said. "It's the first time I've ever really gotten to see him play. The main thing about him I really liked was how high energy he is at all times. If there's a loose ball, he's going to be the first one there and he's going to knock a bunch of people to get it."

The two top post players in the class of 2005, with a school in common (UNC) on their final lists and a similar timetable for a decision – and they didn't talk about college at all?

"Well, we talked about it, but as far as playing together, we never really talked about that," Hendrix said. "We did talk about what we liked about different schools and our overall recruitment."

And that's all he was willing to say about that.

As far as Hendrix's decision, he's actually put it aside for the time being.

"Right now, this summer has been great because I'm keeping my mind off it and my recruitment has slowed down to give me some time to work on my game," he said. "At first I thought I would do an announcement at a camp, but now that I'm enjoying improving on my game, I think I'll wait."

Alabama or North Carolina. He narrowed it down to those two choices several months ago and has made no headway since then.

"I don't know if Tyler's decision is going to be as hard as mine … because I've got a lot of things I've got to weigh out," Hendrix said. "The home school doing well … playing in front of the home crowd … or going to the school with the tradition and a great coach and being on TV every night."

Which begs the question, how is he going to decide?

"I have no clue."

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