It’s a little more than 20 miles from Madera High to Fresno City College, but that journey has been so much longer for Ethan Richardson.
The 6-foot-10 sophomore is enjoying a breakout season with the Rams men’s basketball team that plays in the state playoff quarterfinals Thursday afternoon at Ventura College, where Fresno facse Chaffey at 3 p.m.
Richardson has averaged 16.3 points per game and 7.2 rebounds per game and made All-Central Valley Conference for a Rams team that is 27-3 and the No. 2 seed (behind San Francisco) out of Northern California.
Richardson played four years of varsity at Madera all while people were telling him he should transfer to a high-profile program, like one of the Clovis schools or San Joaquin Memorial. The Coyotes went 41-71 with Richardson at center.
He started his college career at City College of San Francisco, playing one season before transferring first to Reedley College (he didn’t play) then settling at Fresno City College this season.
“He had one shot left and God put him where he needed to be,” said his mom, Jennifer Richardson.
Fresno City assistant coach Nicholas Podesta said, “The biggest thing for him succeeding here has been just growing up and being more mature. Basketball has never been the issue for Ethan. He’s really taking advantage of the opportunity he has, both in the gym and the classroom, and is making the most of the experience. He’s come a long way, and still has loads of potential.”
Richardson said coach Ed Madec is a big reason for the Rams’ success. After all, Madec is 472-66 and guided the Rams to eight state championships appearances – winning state titles in 2006 and 2012.
“Coach Madec put us in a system, and at first we didn’t trust his system and he kept just telling us we got to buy in and it looks like we’re buying in and we’re starting to hit our peak,” Richardson said.
Fresno City is one of four Valley Conference teams playing in the state quarterfinals. The College of the Sequoias men (23-7) are the NorCal No. 3 seed and play Citrus at 1 p.m. Thursday.
In the women’s final eight, Friday at Ventura, NorCal No. 2 Merced (28-3) plays East Los Angeles at 1 p.m. and NorCal No. 4 Sequoias (28-3) plays Moorpark at 7 p.m.
Men’s and women’s semifinals are Saturday and the finals are Sunday, all at Ventura.
Anthony Galaviz: 559-441-6042, agalaviz_TheBee