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Jameson Richardson transfers to Duke with championship dreams

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Jameson Richardson is not your average high school basketball player. The 6-foot-8-inch junior has made a name for himself on the court as Mangum High School’s star player and has led the Mangum Tigers to a 6-2 record during the 2018-19 season.

Despite all of his success thus far, Richardson wants more, and to attain more, he said he feels like he has no choice but to move on from his hometown Tigers.

“It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make,” Richardson said, “but I was motivated to transfer because I wanted to get myself into a better situation.”

Luckily for Richardson, he didn’t have to go very far to find his next destination. Just 15 miles south of where he has played basketball for years is Duke, home to the 10-0 Duke Tigers basketball team.

Already a legitimate threat in Class B basketball, Richardson makes Duke downright lethal. Almost every team that has stepped up to the challenge of taking down the Tigers has fallen flat. Duke’s closest game was a four-point win over the Snyder Cyclones. After that, it was a seven-point win over Hobart, but in most games, the Tigers have won by an average of 30.6 points.

Duke’s biggest win of the season came against the now 12-1 Big Pasture Rangers. The Tigers dropped 85 points on the Rangers and held them to just 54, and now, Duke has the added threat of Richardson on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.

It’s no surprise that a player as tall as Richardson has a knack for blocking shots and pulling down rebounds. Most high school players aren’t as vertically gifted as he is, and those who are aren’t always as athletic nor do they have the same control over their bodies that Richardson does.

Richardson has averaged roughly 20 points per game in eight games with Mangum and often eclipses the 10 rebound mark, as well. He dropped 33 points on Olustee-Eldorado and 32 points on Hobart and Elk City. To end 2018, he posted 20 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks against Carnegie.

What sets him apart from other athletes his age is his willingness to improve. Richardson spends countless hours in the gym and on the court and he said he does it all on his own.

“I work hard on my craft,” Richardson said. “I spend a lot of time by myself in the gym, and I stay after practice and work on things I need to work on.”

All that work has turned Richardson into one of Oklahoma’s top big men on the court.

He excels in scoring and spacing the floor to open up opportunities for his teammates. Duke hasn’t had much trouble with that this season and will undoubtedly find more success in that department with Richardson now running the court with the Tigers.

As for his new teammates in Duke, Richardson said he is well-acquainted with the team as he has been around most of the players for years.

“I’m really close with most of my new teammates,” Richardson said. “I’ve played basketball during the summer with some of these guys, so I’m familiar with them and their style of play. They play fast and I love fast-paced ball games, and I’m willing to play any role they need me to to win basketball games. We all have the same goal, and that is to win a championship.”

Duke players, parents and coaches are excited to have Richardson on board, as well.

Coach Nick Gable recognizes the asset he has gained in Richardson and said having a player with his size and ability is rare in Class B basketball.

“We’re excited to have Jameson join us,” Gable said. “He’s a special talent and I feel like he will really help us in the only department we didn’t really have which is size. Also, he adds to our depth, which I felt like we had before but is now, obviously, better.”

As with any new addition on any sports team, there will be a period of adjustment as Gable works to find where Richardson best fits on the court in Duke.

Richardson will have his work cut out for him as he starts to get acclimated to the way Gable runs the Tigers’ basketball program, but he said he’s up to the challenge and willing to do whatever it takes to help his new team out.

More importantly, Richardson said he’s just ready to have fun and play ball.

Already, his career has taken him places and allowed him to see things that most other high school players can only dream about. He said those opportunities have helped him become a better basketball player.

“I’ve traveled the country,” Richardson said, “and played with and against the best players in the nation. I’ve been to New York City and Los Angeles. Playing against the best competition in the world has made me a better player. I’ve met professional players that have told me what to work on and have told me what has made them so successful. I try to do the things they’ve told me to do so that I can live my dream.”

Richardson and the Tigers will return to the court on Friday, Jan. 4 when they host the Blair Broncs at 8 p.m.

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