North-West Thunder and Penguin player Jacob Richards to play college basketball at Regis University in the US

The 18-year-old, who moved from Hobart to live on the Coast this year, has signed a scholarship to play college basketball at Colorado’s Regis University.

Richards is one of the emerging big men on the junior scene in Australia, having averaged 14.14 points, 6.86 assists and 5.86 rebounds per game for Tasmania at the National Under 20 Championships earlier this year.

He was also enjoying another solid season with the Blues in 2020 until the season was cut short, averaging 18.57 points and 9 rebounds per game, which came on top of his 22-point effort in the 2019 grand final success against Latrobe.

The 200-centimetre forward/centre was expected to also play a key role for the Thunder this year after scoring 10.7 points per game for the Hobart Huskies NBL1 program last year.

With basketball courts around the country closed at present, Richards said the opportunity to head abroad was timely.

“I had been talking to Regis for while, even before the national championships, and while there were a couple of other colleges I had discussions with, when Regis made their offer I was very happy to take it straight away,” he said.

“They are a pretty good division two school, their basketball team has a good record and the coach there has turned the program around into a winning one.”

Richards said playing and training on the North-West Coast had played an important part in his development, helped by Basketball Tasmania coach Mark Radford.

“I was having a great time up here and loving my time with the Thunder and in the NWBU, which was a great competition to play in,” he said.

“Mark was one of my first coaches in the Basketball Tasmania program and has been with me all the way through.”

While disappointed to be losing the services of a quality player, Penguin coach Mal Beveridge believes Richards has the game to succeed.

“As a player Jacob has been outstanding and has all the fundamentals – he can shoot the jump shot and play in the post,” Beveridge said.

“I think his game will suit the college system in the US – he’s got a lot of versatility in what he does.

“Off the court you couldn’t ask for a nicer guy and the commitment he has shown, along with his parents to bring him up from Hobart two nights a week for NWBU basketball shows what he’s made of.”

Richards hopes to head over to the US in August.