Wing Will Richard has reportedly been invited to Damian Lillard’s invitation-only camp, taking place August 4-7 in Portland, Oregon.
Lillard has followed in the footsteps of similar players like Chris Paul and Steph Curry who have created camps to showcase top high school and college talent, usually at the point guard position in their cases, but Lillard’s camp will have a bit of a different feel. As opposed to the similar camps put on by NBA stars that try to get the best possible and most hyped players to attend, Lillard is looking for intangibles and grit.
When making the official release for the camp this is what Lillard had to say:
“We want to take the guys who are underrated, underappreciated, the tough ones, the dogs. We want to put them all in the same place and, you know, just try to make them better when they leave.”
I want to share the knowledge I’ve picked up on my journey with the next generation of athletes. Lots of great people have helped me become the player and person I am today. It’s my turn to do the same for others. Let’s work!@PhilBeckner @frmlazro #TheFormula https://t.co/JjAwsPtDjD
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) July 7, 2022
Knowing Lillard’s journey to where he is now as one of the best point guards in basketball you can see why he’s not just looking to get the biggest names he possibly can to attend his camp but is instead looking for sleepers that he thinks he can help elevate in skill and notoriety. Lillard was only a 2-star recruit coming out of high school before attending Weber State–ultimately defying the odds and becoming an NBA All-Star.
The camp will only have 40 players in attendance–20 college players and 20 high school players. A full list of players is yet to be released, but it will certainly be loaded with interesting names.
During the camp players will receive instruction from Lillard as well as his longtime trainer Phil Beckner, a very respected individual in the skills training game.
Invitations have been extended to every NBA team to send scouts and it’s expected that many will, making this a huge opportunity for Will Richard and the other players in attendance to showcase their skills. Richard has already acquainted himself with scouts and NBA Draft media as a skilled 6’5” wing that already showed some polish as a freshman at Belmont and he’ll look to build on the hype and go from small-conference sleeper to established prospect in the SEC. His defensive upside with steals, blocks, and defensive rebounds was big as a freshman and there were flashes of an offensive player that could fit seamlessly into the NBA game, particularly if he improves his outside shot. Of course, a camp setting with Damian Lillard and trainer Phil Beckner should be just what the doctor ordered for a young Richard looking to continue to grow his game.
This season the Gators are going to have more eyes from NBA scouts on their games then they’ve had in quite a while. Colin Castleton has been getting looks from the NBA for two seasons, and Alex Fudge was a player with NBA upside out of high school that is still being placed on 2023 mock drafts even though he struggled to get on the floor for LSU the second half of last year. A recent trend in the NBA has been picking up inexpensive veteran college point guards to run second units for a tiny cap hit (as we just saw in the draft with Andrew Nembhard) so Kyle Lofton will certainly be seen as a possibility for that role.
Then, you’ve got the wings, the kind of players that the NBA can’t get enough of right now. In addition to Will Richard you’ve got Kowacie Reeves who was pegged as an NBA talent while still in high school, and 2022 recruit Riley Kugel has the explosiveness and offensive electricity that already has scouts taking a look.
To put things further into perspective, Will Richard just got a rather exclusive invitation to a camp run by Damian Lillard…and he might not even be a starter for this Gators team.
This shows just what kind of talent that head coach Todd Golden has been able to put together at Florida extremely early in his tenure. Not only is the overall level of talent high, but it’s at positions of value and scarcity–particularly at the wing position.
Damian Lillard’s camp will almost certainly be a tremendous experience for Will Richard and the reps he gets playing with elite players while getting elite coaching will give him a leg up entering Florida’s 2022-23 season.