Updated: 4 days ago
Belmont’s newest basketball players are hard to miss on the court, or in a crowd.
“Both will be really good players in our program before their time here is over,” said head coach Casey Alexander. “We have great expectations for them, and we are excited for what they are going to do while they’re here.”
Richard, a Georgia native, played high school basketball at Woodward Academy in Atlanta, where he averaged 24 points and 9 rebounds per game.
He showed strong collegiate potential from the first day of summer workouts, said Alexander.
“On the very first day that our team got together this summer, we got a lot of great feedback about how well Will was playing and how comfortable and confident he was,” he said. “He’s never really looked back. He’s been that way ever since.”
Freshman Will Richard at a pre-season practice in the Crockett Center. Belmont Vision / Landen Secrest.
The freshman is still adjusting to higher education and NCAA Division 1 athletics, he said, noticing some of the differences between high school and college ball.
“In college, it’s a faster pace. I’ve been getting used to the speed of the game, there are a lot more plays and small details that you have to pay attention to, ” Richard said.
But the changes haven’t stopped Richard’s growth on the court, and he is expected to contribute to the team from game one.
“I anticipate he’ll play a lot. We don’t need to force him in because we’ve got so many veterans, but as far as his ability, I expect him to make a real contribution,” Alexander said
Fellow freshman Isaiah Walker will have a little more time to tune up his college game, as he will be redshirting through the 2021-22 season, a decision he made with the coaching staff.
In his home state of Ohio, Walker played basketball at Wyoming High School, where he averaged 22 points and 11 rebounds per game. He believes his redshirt year will give him an advantage.
“There’s a lot of seniors on this year’s squad, so I’m looking at it as a positive,” Walker said. “I get to practice for a year, learn plays, and get used to the speed of the game. Next year I’ll be able to come in without wasting any eligibility. I’m glad I’m doing it.”
Alexander said a year spent acclimating to the program will benefit Walker in the long run.
“The decision had nothing to do with whether he was ready to play or not. We looked at the benefits that will come from a year of being here and developing, getting bigger, stronger and more confident,” Alexander said. “He’s got a really bright future. I think he’s going to play a lot, he has adapted very well from the beginning.”
With promising words from his coaches, Walker looks to his veteran teammates for advice on how to become better players in the future.
“I’m soaking in everything. I’m learning from them so I don’t make the same mistakes they might have made when they came in,” Walker said. “I definitely will use all the advice to my advantage.”
Richard is taking cues from the more seasoned members of the squad too.
“I’m learning so much from them. I know they’ve been here for a while and they have a lot of experience,” Richard said. “They’ve also got a lot of wins under their belt. They’re showing me what it takes to be a great team and a great player.”
After competitive play in 2020-21, including 26 game wins and the OVC Regular Season Championship title, the Belmont team stands as favorites to win another conference title this season — its last in the OVC.
Once the Bruins make the move to the Missouri Valley Conference in 2022, they will have two guards ready to make an impact, marking the beginning of a new era for the team.
PHOTO: Men’s basketball freshman Isaiah Walker (left) dribbling against teammate E.J. Bellinger. Belmont Vision / Landen Secrest.
This article was written by Landen Secrest.