(American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Thursday, July 31, 2014 1:17 PMTwo years ago, Patrick Richard was living the dream. Last year, it was leven de droom. And this winter he’ll be leben den Traum.
That is, of course, the dream of pursuing a career in professional basketball, which will soon bring the former McNeese State MVP and 2012 Southland Conference Player of the Year to his third country in as many seasons.
Fortunately for Richard, each of those career moves has been one step up. Last month the Carencro native signed a contract with Mitteldeutscher BC of the German Bundesliga after being named a first team all-pro in the Dutch Basketball League last season.
Richard’s rookie season took him to the second tier of the Australian pro league after a contract with a Russian team fell through, but he has enjoyed his world journey.
“I had a little setback with an injury (before rookie year) and basically had to start over again,” Richard said. “Australia was good, and last season in Holland prepared me for the German top division. I’m seeing the world and moving up in leagues. It’s helping me in my future.”
The 6-foot-4 Richard averaged 15.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game in the Dutch League mostly playing small forward.
He enjoyed his Dutch experience — he said the majority of fans and players speak English and are passionate about the game even though soccer and speedskating are still the most popular sports in the country.
“It kind of reminds me of college atmosphere,” Richard said. “At NBA games the only time you see fans really get into it is a playoff crowd. In Europe, fans come watch practices. We do a lot of clinics with kids. In Australia I coached a (youth) team. It’s more about the youth over there.”
Typically a player’s agent has to do the majority of the legwork when a player is trying to move up the ladder overseas, but that wasn’t the case for Richard with Mitteldeutscher.
“The German team approached (my agent) about me,” Richard said. “The agent usually sends information and tries to get teams to like you. So that kind of drew me towards them a little bit.”
Richard’s new club finished ninth in the 18-team Bundesliga last year, barely missing the eight-team playoffs.
So while his ultimate goal remains to someday get a shot at cracking an NBA roster, his immediate focus is on becoming the difference-maker that brings his team to the postseason.
It’ll be a challenge in Germany. The Bundesliga fluctuates from fifth- to seventh-best in Europe based on FIBA’s annual domestic league rankings, whereas the Dutch league is ranked 16th.
“My ultimate goal, of course, is to get a chance to play in NBA. Right now it’s one season at a time,” Richard said. “I know it’s known as a top 5-7 league in Europe. Every team has great players. I have to continue to prove myself, and maybe next year have a shot at a (NBA) summer league team.”
To that end, Richard has spent his summer training in Houston, around which he squeezes in the few opportunities he gets for visiting family and friends.
His parents were able to visit the Netherlands for a week last year to see him play, but it’s a far cry from his days at McNeese with multiple family members filling the crowd and Patrick Richard Sr. often being the loudest person in the arena.
“I know it’s tough for him and my mom,” Richard said. “When I was at McNeese I had 20 people at almost every game. But they can always watch online because they’re streamed.”
Richard’s dad was also the first to tell him what he needed to do better after every game.
That, at least, has not changed.
“My dad is always gonna be on me,” Richard laughed. “I could be like, 40 years old.”