Prep girls' basketball: Richardson only scratches surface of potential

Prep girls basketball • Richardson averaged nearly 14 points per game during season.
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Kaysville • It was her sophomore year, and Davis forward Jessica Richardson scanned the court, looking at her teammates.

The Darts weren't very good then — they won just five games that season — but she saw talent in her class. When they became seniors, Richardson believed, they'd have a chance to do something special.

Two years later, Richardson stood on the court before practice and again surveyed the gym. She had been right. The Darts, and the teammates she saw, were Region 1 champions.

"I knew our class was going to come up and be a strong team," Richardson said. "It's exciting for me. I've always dreamed about taking region, so taking it my senior year is kind of a big deal for me."

The Darts' senior class has been playing together since junior high, and year after year, Richardson could track the progress. Everything was working to this point, and the Darts started on the right foot by defeating West on Monday to open the Class 5A playoffs.

"Through the years, you could see it getting better and better," Richardson said. "It makes it a lot better when you've worked for what you get instead of just having it given to you."

After working so hard and so long to get there, pressure is inevitable. Any game could be the last Richardson plays in her high school career. But instead of shying away from that reality, she and Davis' other seniors have turned it into motivation.

"It's kind of nerve-racking," Richardson said. "But I've come to the realization that any game could be my last, for high school at least. All of our seniors, we decided to give our heart and soul to every game."

Regardless of how the Darts fare in the playoffs, Richardson will have left a legacy at Davis. Despite only first playing basketball seriously in eighth grade — "I wasn't too good," she said — she has become a leader, on and off the court.

She finished the regular season averaging nearly 14 points a game, and her defensive presence in the post is invaluable for the Darts.

But what makes her special is that she's always finding ways to make her teammates successful, Davis coach Ann Jones said. One of Richardson's favorite things to do on offense is pin defenders in the post, leaving open 3s for her teammates in the corner.

"You can get caught up in yourself," Jones said. "Jessica is not caught up in herself one bit. She's so fun to be around and coach. Athletically, she's so gifted — she has those God-given talents of run, jump, strength — but she's such a great teammate and leader."

Richardson's contributions have caught the eye of several colleges and likely will earn her an opportunity to play at the next level. Among the colleges talking to her are Utah State, Salt Lake Community College and BYU-Hawaii.

Since she hasn't been playing for long, Richardson still is a raw talent. Jones believes the program that takes Richardson will have found a diamond in the rough.

"She has huge upside," Jones said. "You're just starting to see what Jessica can do. She's exploded this year. She's going to play at the next level somewhere, and it will be really fun to see how she develops and how far she goes."