Tennessee has one of the best returning lineups in the country. Three of their starting five are on the first- or second-team All-SEC; Jordan McRae, Jeronne Maymon and Jarnell Stokes could start for any team in the NCAA. However, the Volunteers’ success or failure is going to depend not on those three players, but the other two – one of which is Junior Josh Richardson.
One of the key aspects Cuonzo Martin looks for in recruiting players is players who give 100 percent the whole game and who put defense and the team first. Richardson takes this to heart and is the epitome of Martin’s style of basketball.
The 6-foot-6 guard from Edmonton, Oklahoma is just long enough to be able to put some of the best shooters in the SEC off and just fast enough to get in the way of the best dribblers. Richardson may have the best positioning of any player in the SEC; he seems to always be in the right place at the right time.
Last season, Richardson averaged nearly eight points and four rebounds per game, which on paper doesn’t look like a lot. However, his defensive efforts on the court saved Tennessee in late-game situations multiple times. It seemed like every time that Tennessee made a good play on defense, Richardson was involved.
This season, Richardson needs to keep playing his style of basketball. He had a tendency to take shots when he didn’t need to last year, but because of Maymon’s return, he shouldn’t have to produce many points for the Volunteers. If Richardson can continue to play tough defense and hit the mid-range jumpers from around the free throw line, Tennessee will be far more dangerous than anyone realizes.