Former McNeese All-American Patrick Richard named Romanian Basketball League’s Player of the Year

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LAKE CHARLES – Patrick Richard, a 2017 McNeese Sports Hall of Fame inductee and the 2012 Southland Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Year, has been named Player of the Year of the Romanian League, announced on Thursday.

In addition, the Carencro native earned first team All-Romanian League honors as well as one of five to be named to the All-Imports Team; named All-Romanian Forward of the Year and All-Romanian Import Player of the Year.

Richard played for the U-Bank Transylvania Cluj Napoca squad this past season, helping the team with a 15-3 record and to the top of the league standings before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled play with six games remaining until the start of the playoffs.

In 18 games, the 2012 AP All-American and three-time first team All-SLC selection, two on the first team, averaged 17.1 points, 4.1 assists and 1.9 steals per game while knocking down 54 percent of his shots, 45 percent from three-point range, and 92 percent at the free throw line.

He scored in double-figures in 17 of the 18 games with six games at 20 points or more.

In his eight-year career, Richard has toured the other side of the globe, playing for seven different teams in six countries.

“It’s a blessing,” said Richard who is currently spending time with family in Jonesboro, Arkansas before returning to Louisiana in a few days. “European basketball is continuously growing every year. You can see that with how many players make the jump to the NBA. I had a really good season but winning helps bring the accolades.”

It was a season that almost wasn’t after a back injury had him contemplating retirement.

“I really thought about it after last year,” he said. “I went to Italy and had a bad back injury and coming back from that is tough to do. But I went through rehab and got healthy. I wanted to keep playing but no team was interested. Romania came out of nowhere. It’s one of the best things I ever did was to join them. I wish we could’ve finished the season.”

Moving around has its advantages because you get to see different counties and different cultures, but it also has its disadvantages, especially when you have a family.

“I signed a multi-year contract before with Isreal, but after the season, the main sponsor of the team dropped it and the team disbanded. I would love to stay places. I signed a two-year deal with Romania so I’ll know soon if they pick up the option.”

Winning Player of the Year is a pretty good bet Richard will be in Romania for another year, a place he’s thrilled to be with his family.

“I’ve been to so many different countries and it didn’t affect me until we started having kids,” he said. “Especially when they got to the age to start school and the different languages spoken. In the last three years, we were in New Zealand for two, where they speak English, and in Romania, we were able to find an international school.

“As far as the teams, every player I’ve played with has spoken English. But this year, our coach didn’t so we had to have an interpreter. But basketball is a universal language. Personally, I haven’t really picked up on any new languages but had I stayed at a place long enough, I would have tried to learn something new.”

Despite not learning the native tongue, Richard still enjoys interacting with the fans, especially kids.

“Basketball is big over here,” he said. “A lot of these countries, soccer is the No. 1 sport but basketball is tops in a lot as well. Every fan base looks at us as professional athletes, like we’re NBA players, especially the kids. It’s a great feeling to interact with them and put smiles on their faces.”

After completing his McNeese career, Richard was invited to the New York Knicks mini-camp and was then drafted by the Iowa Energy of the D-League.

He began his foreign professional career in 2013 with the Sandringham Sabres of the Australian SEABL and later played with the Matrixx Magixx of the Holland-Eredivisie. Combined, Richard started in 62 games and averaged 17 points per game.

In the 2014-15 season he played for the Mitteldeutscher BC Weissenfels of the Germany-BBL, averaging 13.2 points per contest. He followed that season up with a year in the France-ProA League as a starter with the Champagne Chalons-Reims.

In 2016-17, he moved to the Israel-Winner League as a member of the Maccabi Rishon Le-Zion and averaged 12 points in 47 games played.

Richard made the jump to the Spain-Liga League in 2017-18, playing for the Divina Seguros Juventut Badalona and in 2018-19, was a member of the New Zealand Breakers of the Australia-NBL and in February of 2019, moved to the Grissin Bon Reggion Emilia of the Italy-Serie A.

Other honors achieved by Richard in his career include: All-Dutch Eredivisie First Team (2014), Dutch Eredivisie All-Imports Team (2014), German Bundesliga All-Star Game (2015), All-German Bundesliga Honorable Mention (2015), Romanian Cup Winner (2020).

Richard is expected to return to Romania sometime in August to prepare for the next season.

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