Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune
Former Madera Coyotes basketball standout and Fresno City College basketball player Ethan Richardson is surrounded by family Friday morning after signing at National Letter of Intent to play basketball at West Virginia.
FRESNO — Although he took a circuitous route, the Madera Coyotes boys basketball team’s most prolific scorer in history is making his way to play basketball for Bob Huggins and West Virginia.
Ethan Richardson completed his junior college eligibility and West Virginia of the Big 12 Conference came in to swoop the 6-foot, 10-inch sophomore to complete his collegiate eligibility playing with some of the best players in the country not in the NBA.
“It’s been a long journey, for sure,” Richardson said.
He made it official by singing a National Letter of Intent Friday at Fresno City College to attend West Virginia. Richardson earned All-Central Valley Conference honors last season with the Rams and led them to the State Final Four.
“The biggest thing about Ethan is he’s a great person,” head coach Ed Madec said. “The players love him, the coaches love him. He needed some structure in his life. He’s loyal, hard working and has all the characteristics of a winner. His back was killing all through the playoffs and played through it. He’s a warrior and a great kid. I’m excited for him.”
Before matriculating to Fresno City, Richardson transferred four times and even took a year off to consider his options.
“I didn’t know if I was going to play basketball again,” he said. “I got a regular job and learned how the real world works. I knew I had to do it eventually, but I knew God gave me these talents for a reason. I needed to expedite them so I contacted my coaches. They got me back on the right path and hooked up at Fresno City.”
Originally, Richardson went to San Francisco City College and played one season before transferring to Midland Junior College in Texas. He lasted a semester before transferring back to SFCC. Then, he went to Reedley College before taking a year off before finding his way to FCC.
“This school has been in my backyard my whole life, but I have always heard bad things about the school and Coach Madec,” Richardson said. “It was a blessing in disguise. It saved my life coming here. I learned how to be a man from Coach Madec. There are way too many people to thank that got me here. They know who they are.”
While taking his year off of school, Richardson had to find direction and found it at Fresno City.
“The love for basketball was always there,” he said. “It didn't fade away. I just didn't want to go to school. At the end of the day, you want to get your degree. If you want to be successful, you have to have an education. That sparked me going back to school, too.”
“We really provided an environment with the culture that’s conducive to be successful,” Madec said. “We get the kids to study hall. We teach them how to live like a productive adult. A lot of these kids are missing the structure that they’re starving for. That’s what I believe. Ethan was just looking for someone to hold him accountable and teach him the right way. Nobody’s perfect, but we love Ethan because he’s got a great heart.”
While Richardson excelled at Fresno City on the court, he also learned his lessons off the court.
“Madec teaches us how to be a man and to be straight up with everyone you talk to, never B.S. anyone, never beat around the bush,” Richardson said. “At the end of the day, people are going to respect you for it, whether they like it or not. That’s what we learned. We had that pride and learned how to come together as a family.”
Richardson said he received a recruiting call from West Virginia out of the blue and then saw it was a great opportunity.
“They called me out of nowhere,” he said. “I was driving to go work out. I got a call and I get random calls all the time from coaches. He said he was from West Virginia so I looked at my phone right away. I asked my coach if it was good.”
Richardson went on a visit and compared the campus and the city of Morgantown to Madera, but intensified.
“The visit was great,” he said. “That was my mom’s first time on a plane in her life. At first, I thought I would be scared of it, but as I get older, I'm thinking of it as a business trip. I’m going there for two years, handle my business, get my degree, get a lot better and hopefully play overseas or play in the NBA, which is the dream. The whole city over is so crazy. It makes you feel very comfortable where you’re at. In Morgantown, it’s all about the Mountaineers. It’s kind of like Madera. There, it’s intensified.”
Now that Richardson is signed, he is excited about the opportunity to play with some of the top talents in the country.
“It’s the Big-12,” he said. “I looked into it as soon as they called me. They are one of the top teams in the country. I took that as a challenge that I have to get a lot better. I took that as if you want to be a pro, you might as well play against pros everyday. The role is to come in and work hard. Everything is earned and not given.”
However, in the end, Richardson is excited and happy about the opportunity. He is also excited to have the chance to give something back to the many people who have supported him throughout the years.
“Madera has always been around me,” he said. “The support staff I have in the 559 community has always been behind me. Every time they see me, they tell me to keep pushing.”