D'Angelo Richardson's heart, spirit on and off the court fuel his success
HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- There is an old saying that if you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day, but if you teach a man to fish, he will eat for life.
Southern Miss men's basketball senior guard D'Angelo Richardson will eat for life.
There are few better ways to describe the two-year walk-on than a moment of adversity this past summer that has paved the way for his emergence as an adult.
"This past summer, I had hit a pole trying to avoid a deer," Richardson said. "My bumper, hood and fender were all dented in. I went to Pull-A-Part and brought a new bumper and fender. Me and my god-dad. He kind of knew and wanted me to do it. Basically, I did all the work while he watched over and directed me. It was a good learning experience."
Richardson's oneness with cars has transitioned into his current job, car detailing at Mack Grubbs Hyundai, which he has done since last summer. He says while financial aid helps him through his classes, his car payments are all directly from his employment.
Head coach Doc Sadler, currently in his fourth year at the helm, said Richardson has absolutely helped the team win some games, but more importantly has done everything ever asked of him.
"He is a kid that has a job, gets up and goes to work at 7 a.m., leaves there and then goes to school," Sadler said. "On the weekends, he is working. He's one of those kids that paid his own way, so he is responsible and is going to be very successful. Don't be surprised that someday you'll see D'Angelo doing something special."
Richardson's work ethic is an inherent trait, but basketball was certainly a learned one. In fact, he admits that out of his non-sports-centric household, he did not even know what ESPN or the NBA was until eighth grade.
His ninth-grade season at Vicksburg High School was when he first began to realize his potential.
"My coach that year instilled a lot of confidence in me," Richardson said. "Once he started doing that, I started seeing results. It was like `dang, if I keep working hard, I can get to where I want to go,' so that's basically what happened."
Richardson eventually earned a scholarship at Holmes CC outside of Jackson. After his second year, he was gaining some interest from Alcorn State and Xavier (La.), but his coach knew Sadler.
"Doc pretty much took my coach's word, and said `if he's a good guy, then I can take him in,' and that's basically how I got down here."
Richardson's time in the Black and Gold has been everything he could have asked for.
Rewind to Nov. 11, 2016, which was his debut. Richardson connected on a baseline jumper with 33 seconds in overtime to tie Tougaloo, then with one second left sank two free-throws to force a second session. From there, he hit a three-pointer with 34 seconds on the clock to put his team up by two and sank two more foul shots with 10 ticks to effectively seal the game.
Then, on Feb. 16, 2017, with Southern Miss squaring off against FIU with C-USA Championships bids on the line, he reeled in a long offensive rebound and sank a three-pointer well beyond the arc just before the overtime buzzer to win the game.
Which was better... the dancing at the beginning, the buzzer-beating shot in the middle, or the cheerleader celebration at the end?! pic.twitter.com/wTClQUrRYP
-- Conference USA (@ConferenceUSA) February 17, 2017
-- Southern Miss MBB (@SouthernMissMBB) February 17, 2017
Richardson has five career starts (all this season), and has also produced five double-figure scoring games. Southern Miss won each of those. He even made 23 consecutive free-throws attempts this season, the longest by a Golden Eagle since 2013.
Cortez Edwards has emerged the last two seasons as arguably the Golden Eagles' most valuable player on offense and defense. He is also roommates with Richardson and sang his praises.
"Our relationship has really grown on and off the court," Edwards said. "I'm just grateful I met and learned a lot from him. He's outgoing and down-to-earth; authentic! He's a real funny guy. He's friends with everybody on the team, all 13 of us, from Eddie [Davis III], to Dom [Magee], Penny [Hampton] and everyone in between."
Richardson's persona is wise beyond his years. He is far from the first walk-on to earn a significant role on a college basketball team, and he won't be the last. He boasts his own words of encouragement for the next man up in that position.
"It's a life lesson," he said. "You can do whatever you want to do even though it might not pan out as much as you want it to. Work hard and stay down through all the hard times. Try to take in as much as you can. If you can play offense and defense, scout team and get reps at the starting spot, do both. I say do everything, there's so much you can learn and trying to experience different things can help in the future."
Southern Miss hosts Louisiana Tech on Saturday for its final home game. Richardson will be honored prior to the 4:30 p.m. CT tip-off.