Butting Heads Ultimately Brought Dad of New Hog Billy Richmond Closer to Calipari

John Calipari, Billy Richmond III, Arkansas basketball, Kentucky basketball
photo credit: Arkansas Athletics / Joe Tipton

John Calipari has now brought four players with him from Kentucky to Arkansas, with heralded recruit Billy Richmond III becoming the latest with his Friday commitment.

Originally from Memphis, the five-star small forward committed to Calipari and the Wildcats in December. Although Alabama and LSU were among his four finalists, it ultimately came down to Kentucky and his hometown Tigers, with the former earning his pledge.

Within a week of Calipari taking the Arkansas job, though, Richmond re-opened his recruitment and was in Fayetteville for an official visit that began Wednesday. It’s not particularly surprising to see the visit end the same way it did for Karter Knox and Boogie Fland — with a commitment to the Razorbacks.

After all, when he announced his original pledge to the Wildcats in an interview with NBA insider Shams Charania, Richmond didn’t mention Kentucky’s status as one of college basketball’s blue bloods. Instead, he seemed most excited about playing for the Hall of Fame coach now in charge of the Arkansas basketball program.

“The reason I picked Kentucky is (a) great coaching staff: Calipari always keeps it real with me,” Richmond said. “That’s a big reason.”

Reeling in Richmond again is yet another big get for Calipari as he continues building the Razorbacks’ 2024-25 roster from scratch. Inheriting a roster that featured only walk-on Lawson Blake, he has since signed transfer big man Zvonimir Ivisic, a 7-foot-2 Croatian who played his freshman season at Kentucky, and landed commitments from a trio of five-star prospects in Knox, Fland and Richmond.

Ranked as high as No. 20 nationally in the Class of 2024 by On3, Richmond also checks in at No. 22 overall on Rivals and 247Sports. Although a four-star recruit on each of the major services, he has five-star status in the 247Sports Composite, which combines all of those ratings.

The new Arkansas basketball commit’s vast potential clearly shines through in this clip:

Arkansas Lands Calipari Legacy Recruit

John Calipari has been around college basketball long enough that he’s now recruiting the sons of his former players. In fact, he signed one of those legacy recruits in each of his last two classes at Kentucky — Adou Thiero in 2022 and DJ Wagner in 2023. Both of those players are in the transfer portal and could follow their former coach to Arkansas.

What makes the situation with Billy Richmond III so unique is that his father, Billy Richmond Jr., and Calipari clashed during their time together at Memphis. In fact, the elder Richmond was suspended multiple times with the Tigers and ultimately left the team after playing in just six games as a redshirt junior in 2003-04.

That’s a stark contrast to the relationship between DJ Wagner’s father, Dajuan, and Calipari. Following Dajuan Wagner’s freshman year at Memphis, Calipari pulled his scholarship to force him to enter the NBA Draft because of the money he was set to make as the eventual sixth overall pick in 2002.

However, any hard feelings between Richmond and Calipari have been smoothed over.

After a short stint playing overseas, Richmond’s father is now a successful businessman. He’s the founder and CEO of The Wing Guru, a hot wings and burgers chain that’s popular in Memphis. According to a Commercial Appeal story in 2022, Calipari has even ordered postgame food from the establishment for his Kentucky teams.

Richmond also told the Commercial Appeal that he learned a lot from Calipari, who served as one of his mentors over the years.

“I had to grow up,” Richmond said. “And once I decided to grow up and not take things so personally, me and Cal began to have a great relationship. You can’t take things so personal when things don’t go your way. I know it wasn’t personal because here I am today successful. And he’s successful as well. We’re good.”

Billy Richmond III Scouting Report

Given his background, Billy Richmond III has been around basketball his entire life, but he hasn’t always been a can’t-miss, five-star prospect.

According to a story by the Philadelphia Inquirer, he actually grew five inches between his eighth and ninth grade year. The added height would typically be welcomed by aspiring hoopers, but gaining it so quickly led to severe knee pain – so much so that it impacted his game to the point where he was cut by his AAU team.

Richmond eventually got through those issues and had a breakout sophomore campaign at East High in Memphis, earning his first scholarship offer from Penny Hardaway. He also started playing in a new AAU organization, where he played alongside high-profile recruits DJ Wagner and Aaron Bradshaw.

That led to a tight relationship with the two Kentucky pledges and he eventually moved to New Jersey to play with them at Camden High. In fact, he lived with Wagner for six months until his mom was able to move to the area.

As a junior, Richmond played a supporting role and averaged 11.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists. With Wagner and Bradshaw gone, he averaged 17.5 points as a senior and led Camden High to a 30-2 record capped by its second state title in three seasons.

In between those two seasons, Richmond also put up 18 points and 5 rebounds per game on the Nike EYBL circuit and committed to Kentucky, where he planned to potentially reunite with his former teammates if they weren’t one-and-done.

At the next level, Richmond has said his goal is to play some point guard and improve his overall basketball IQ, but the area most scouting services agree he needs to work on most is his outside shot.

However, even if he’s not a threat behind the arc, his athleticism and size (6-6, 200) should make him a capable scorer, in addition to a very good defender for Arkansas basketball.

“Richmond is a left-handed wing prospect with a variety of finishing skills on offense,” Cameron Drummond wrote for the Lexington Herald-Leader on Dec. 28. “Defensively, Richmond’s motor and physical size allow him to have success, especially when paired with his willingness to rebound.”

That motor is also something that caught 247Sports director of scouting Adam Finkelstein’s eye in his scouting report from last October. He believes his skillset should “align nicely with what Calipari values.”

“He’s highly competitive and plays with a high-motor and attacking mentality,” Finkelstein wrote. “Athletically, he runs very well, is an explosive leaper, and can rise-up through contact with a lot of sheer force. He has a naturally stronger frame, in both his upper and lower body, and plenty of room to keep adding muscle.”


Check out some highlights of new Arkansas basketball commit Billy Richmond III:

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