When Jameson Richardson agreed to return to the Sooner State last week to participate in the Oklahoma Basketball Coaches Association all-star game, the former Duke Tiger star saw it as an opportunity to extend his high school career by one more game.
He received a pleasant surprise when he found out his high school coach, Nick Gable, would be one of his coaches for the Small West squad.
“I didn’t know Coach Gable was going to be the coach until a few days before, so it was pretty cool that he got to coach me one last time,” said Richardson, who finished with 12 points in an 85-75 loss. “Seeing the community come out and support us was really cool to me. I got my state championship ring before the game so that was pretty cool to be able to rock that while I was there. It was really fun.”
“All-star games are a neat deal for the kids but there’s not a lot of coaching that goes on in those,” remarked Gable with a chuckle. “Of course, there’s no defense in any all-star game and some players were out of shape, but it went well.”
The game capped off a storybook senior season for Richardson. The 6-9 sharpshooter led the Class B Tigers to their first-ever boys state basketball championship in March. He finished his career with 2,294 points, good enough for 58th all-time in Oklahoma high school history.
Oklahoma’s small class divisions played its championship tournaments the first week in March and crowned champions just a few days before COVID-19 cancelled the larger class state tournaments.
“It was just so awesome,” added Richardson, who was rated by some recruiting services as high as the fifth-best player in Oklahoma this season. “Words can’t explain how much effort and time we put in to the team. I felt like this year we got really, really close and wanted to play for each other.”
Richardson capped off a solid postseason by scoring a team-high 24 points in the Class B title game. The Tigers outlasted a good Leedey team, 52-49, to win the gold ball.
“After we won, we came home and we had a police escort, the fire department was there, everybody was up and down Main Street,” recalled Richardson. “It rained that day and we ended up walking the gold ball all the way from the school to halfway down Main Street. It was a really cool feeling. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.”
The accolades didn’t end there for Richardson. After winning the state title, he turned his attention to recruiting and eventually committed to Abilene Christian.
The smaller classes don’t really see a lot of college coaches and stuff,” explained Richardson, who had 19 people in his graduating class. “The attention I got was definitely from AAU ball. They came and saw me there.”
“Jameson is six-nine,” stated Gable. “You don’t have a lot of that size period, much less in Class B. With that size, he’s also extremely skilled. He literally is in range from about five feet inside of half court. He drives well, he’s got a good pull up. He can finish right and left.”
“Jameson is the most dominant offensive player I’ve ever coached in my life,” added the former Chattanooga, Big Pasture and Meeker head coach. “He can do it all on the offensive end, and to be six-nine it just adds to it. It makes his shot almost impossible to block, which is why he had so many offers and why he’s playing D-I basketball.”
Richardson has been on the ACU campus for a couple of weeks. It didn’t take him long to realize he wasn’t in high school any more.
“Just taking care of your body,” said Richardson of one of the many changes he’s made during his short time at ACU. “What you eat is really, really crucial. My diet has changed and I’ve been working out. I’ve already lost close to 20 pounds because I got big during the quarantine. Nothing was open, so I didn’t really have a chance to do anything.”
“I’m adjusting to how fast everything is,” added Richardson. “How fast paced practice is, and the weightlifting. It’s 100 times different than high school basketball. It’s night and day.”
No matter how his college career goes, Richardson can always look back fondly on 2020 and his final year of high school basketball.
“To be the first boy’s team in school history to win a championship means a lot,” gushed Richardson. “To be one of the schools that got to finish their state tournament, I’m really, really grateful for that.”