Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

EAsy Does It for Hoop Dreamers

November 18, 2002 Columns No Comments

Former College Standouts still have Hoop Dreams

by Nicholas Lozito

University of San Francisco graduate LyRyan Russell still dreams of one day playing in the NBA.

The 6-foot point guard lit up Sacramento on Wednesday night for 24 points. Russell, however, wasn’t sporting a professional jersey as he would have liked, but rather one that read EA Sports across the chest.

Russell’s EA team beat Sacramento State 83-80 in an exhibition game, and Russell’s 18 second-half points led the way.

With just over one minute remaining, and the Hornets hanging on to a 80-78 lead, former Vanderbilt star Pax Whitehead converted a three-point play to give EA Sports a lead they would never relinquish.

A victory over a Division I opponent is rare for an exhibition team. The Hornets defeated a similar EA Sports team by eight points last preseason.

The victory is even sweeter considering the EA team doesn’t earn a penny from the game.

Russell hopes his time with the EA team is just a stepping-stone for better things to come.

“This is a way to stay in shape and get some tapes to send to people,” Russell said. “In a couple of years, hopefully I’ll have a shot at the NBA.”

At USF, Russell averaged 7.0 points while leading the Dons with 4.5 assists his senior season.

Since graduating, Russell has suffered through injuries, but still managed to get a tryout with the Idaho Stampede of the Continental Basketball Association.

“I’m still waiting,” he said. “They still might need a point guard later in the season.”

As Russell heads into a profession where most don’t make it, and many of those who do make it often find themselves in a foreign country, he has a Plan B.

“I got my degree in physical therapy, so I have something to fall back on if this doesn’t work,” Russell said. “But I feel I should be able to play somewhere.”

On Wednesday, Russell proved he could not only play, but also dominate at the exhibition level. The 23-year old guard picked apart the Sacramento State defense, recording six assists and nine rebounds to go along with 5-for-8 shooting from behind the arc. His 24 points were a game high.

After the game, Russell receives praise from his teammates.

EA forward Jay Richardson congratulates Russell on a solid performance, and advises him to take a pick to his ‘fro, which, according to Richardson, is a little too unkempt.

For Richardson, Wednesday’s game pinned the forward against a team he had played for only eight months prior. Richardson averaged 4.1 points and 3.6 rebounds last season as a senior with the Hornets, and still takes classes at the Sacramento campus.

Richardson scored three points against his former team in the exhibition game, while pulling down four rebounds and blocking three shots.

“It’s weird,” Richardson said. “I’m on the bench wanting to cheer every time they scored.”

The former Hornet approaches freshman point guard Deshawn Freeman as he comes out of the home team locker room. Freeman struggled at times in his first-ever game in a Hornet jersey, committing a pair of fouls in his first two minutes on the floor.

Richardson has nothing but support and advice for the young freshman.

He offers Freeman some tips on running the offense, and tells him to utilize his lateral quickness, which big men, including himself, can’t keep up with.

With four years of college basketball experience — two in junior college and two at Sac State — Richardson isn’t shy about sharing his basketball knowledge.

After almost quitting the sport following his senior campaign with the Hornets last season, Richardson spent his summer working out with NBA players Jerome James (Seattle Supersonics), Tremaine Fowlkes (Los Angeles Clippers) and Bobby Jackson (Sacramento Kings).

It’s a year-round quest to stay in shape for Richardson and Russell, because there is no telling when the next professional tryout might present itself.

After the three-game exhibition tour with EA Sports, Richardson will turn his focus onto getting his degree from Sacramento State. He will stay in shape by practicing with his former teammates.

In July, he hopes to play in a Los Angeles Pro-Am league.

Richardson has the same dream as Russell.

“I’d like to see myself playing for an NBA team,” Richardson said. “But more than likely, I see myself overseas making a good living.”

Chances are you will never again read about Jay Richardson or LyRyan Russell. The same goes for the rest of the EA Sports players.

But as long as there is a court to play on, there is always the chance that the right scout is watching.

And as long as there is a chance, there is always the dream.


Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 18, 2018

January 18, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about big road wins for a few teams, including a couple of bluebloods that looked destined for losses, as well as an unsettled Big Ten beyond one team, an SEC where you shouldn’t pay attention to bracketologists, and the problems with a proposed earlier start to the college basketball season.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 11, 2018

January 11, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about several big pieces of news away from game play, one of which puts a lot in perspective. We also talk about the lack of dominant teams and how this has shown up in the results, especially this past weekend.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 4, 2018

January 4, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we start with a big game in the Big East, then move on to the sudden lack of undefeated teams, a big injury in the ACC, and a powerhouse that looks vulnerable in a stacked conference they have long ruled.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – December 8, 2017

December 8, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a bizarre finish to an early-season tournament game, the Pac-12’s early struggles, Florida teams going in different directions and two northeast teams trending less relevant even as they excite fans at a famous arena.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – November 22, 2017

November 22, 2017 by

In our pre-Thanksgiving podcast, we look at a key injury that is likely to be devastating for his team and an under-the-radar 4-0 week, then move on to some early SEC impressions and a couple of teams that just continue to win.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.