Anthony Richardson appeared on Mad Ants coach Duane Ticknor's wish list last summer.
Richardson is the type of professional, team-first player who lends not only production – he's averaging 13.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game – but direction. It took a little finagling to get Richardson in a December trade with Reno, but it paid off.
With Luke Harangody sidelined with knee issues, Richardson is even more important.
“He's kind of the unsung hero,” Ticknor said. “He makes big shots for us. He's a tough matchup for other teams when we have him playing the 4-spot.
“His veteran leadership is a big part of the glue that makes this team go.”
The Ants (16-18) kick off a five-game homestand tonight, facing Erie (19-15) at 7 at Memorial Coliseum. While Fort Wayne is currently on the outside looking in with the playoff picture (2.5 games behind current final seed Tulsa), the opportunity is there for the taking.
Richardson's quiet leadership should play a pivotal role.
“This is a very, very important part of the season right now,” Richardson said. “A lot of our young guys, I don't know if they've been in this position before. Every game is important. You have to go into every game almost like it's a playoff game because you have to win to get in the playoffs.”
Richardson, 29, has played at number of locales since his college career at Florida State, including the NBA Development League, the Continental Basketball Association, the United States Basketball League and teams in Japan, Germany and the Netherlands.
Richardson takes his family – wife Jennifer and children Jorney and London – wherever he goes.
“He's such an important piece to what we want to do on the court, but off the court, too,” Ticknor said. “He and his family had the whole team over for dinner before we went on the road. He understands what it takes to be a winning team and be a leader.”
The last three games since Harangody has been out, Richardson's minutes have increased. He has played 37, 36 and 31 minutes the last three games (two wins and a loss), with a combined 49 points and 20 rebounds.
Harangody returned to practice Monday but won't rejoin the active roster until his knee is stronger.
“Any time you lose a player of (Harangody's) caliber, everybody's role has to be increased and everybody has to try to step up and fill that void,” Richardson said. “At this point, there's not much you can do different. You just have to work as hard as you can.”
Richardson said he was eager to get out of Reno and that Fort Wayne feels like the right spot for his game.
“I let God lead me through life,” Richardson said. “Wherever he puts me is where I'm supposed to be. This is a great place for me to be. I just started introducing the team to team Bible study. My goal in life is to please God, so this is where I'm supposed to be.”