Bob Jones’ Kaden Rickard “Makes The Game Look Easy”
MADISON- Coaches within the Bob Jones boys basketball program are dealing with only two returning players who had varsity experience coming into the current 2023-2024 season. But waiting in the wings of experience was a player that Bob Jones head coach Bryant Starkey called, “makes the game look easy.”
The talents of team newcomer Kaden Rickard are shinning brightly midway through the current season for the Patriots as the junior guard-forward is hitting 15.4 points and grabbing 6.8 rebounds per game. Like Starkey, who is in his first season as head coach, Rickard is in his first season with Bob Jones transferring from Westminster where he was a two-year starter.
Though new to the Patriots’ program, Rickard is not new to Madison. Matter of fact, he was born in Madison, grew up here and still lives in the same moderate home of his childhood with his mother, Andrea Rickard.
“I began playing basketball as a five-year old in the BAM youth league held mostly at Dublin Memorial Park and played here through my years at Discovery Middle School,” said the 17-year old Rickard. “At that time, AAU basketball over and I also began to attend Westminster. I’m glad to be back playing here in Madison.”
Those associated with the Bob Jones program are glad to have him on board as the 6-foot-6 guard/forward brings a heaping of great athletic talent to the squad which went 20-11 last season in what was Starkey’s fourth season on the Bob Jones staff as an assistant coach. Rickard also carries a wealth of knowledge of the game having a high basketball IQ.
“He has one of the highest basketball IQ’s I’ve been around,” said Starkey. “Typically, when he comes to us as coaches during a game with something he is seeing on the floor, we are able to make adjustments from his observations.”
“That comes from my knowledge of the game as I feel I can see things happening in the game I feel others can’t,” said Rickard. “I seem to know when things are going to happen. I feel I have good eyes with great awareness on the court.”
With the team roster filled mostly with underclassmen, Rickard has taken it upon himself to mention the young players and share his knowledge and vast experience with those looking to grow on the team and within the sport.
“He is one of the few players we have that had previous varsity experience, so he was able to take some of the pressure off our young guys at the beginning of the season and allow them to settle in their roles,” said Starkey. “Kaden is a leader on and off the court and in the classroom. He does a good job of motivating our guys.”
As a player, Rickard is having an outstanding season helping the Pats on both ends of the court. He’s scoring 15.4 points per game along with 6.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.3 deflections and 2.6 steals. Starkey added, “I think his biggest strengths are finishing around the basket through contact and getting where he wants to go on the court. He has an incredible ability to read the ball off the rim when rebounding and is a great defensive player. He has the perfect skill set to have a lot of success at any level of college basketball.”
Rickard is receiving plenty of looks from schools including Troy, Murray State and Samford. “I want to play in college where I can fit in,” said Rickard with a current 3.2 grade point average and desire to study business.
“I feel I’m a team player and can setup the offense and take hold of the game,” said Rickard. “I feel I rebound well and have good foot work. I need to work on my confidence of shooting outside more. I’m an above average shot blocker, but need to be more aggressive.”
Rickard is the only child to his mother, who Rickard gives credit to for encouraging him to try the sport along with his playing youth football until he made his way into middle school. Andrea and her son could be seen many times outside playing roundball where she would take the time to show him the dos and don’ts of the game.
“My mom played high school and college basketball and she would coach me whenever we played together,” said Rickard. “She was an assistant coach on one of my youth teams, too. I was guided by her, and she’s been a big inspiration for me. Her coaching of me got me to where I am now.”
Standing 6-6, Rickard also has a wingspan of 68 inches. He’s using those talents for not only Bob Jones, but on his AAU team called Pro1. The team is based here locally. His previous AAU team was based in Georgia and went by the name The Atlanta Express and his travels to play have included stops in Arizona, South Carolina, Florida and Georgia, but Rickard likes home base the most. He can be seen shooting hoops with his friends at the Madison YMCA, as well as, inside the confines of the gymnasium at Bob Jones.
For Rickard, his teammates and coaching staff, seeing him play up to his potential makes the team better and the game look easy.