LINCOLN — Step back six years to a high school basketball practice in Los Angeles.
Brandon Richardson, after completing a shooting drill to near perfection, learned that an assistant coach at Nebraska wanted to talk to him about a scholarship.
"First of all, I didn't know where Nebraska was," Richardson said this week. "I was like, 'What's in Nebraska?' I knew the football team was big, but I didn't know anything about basketball."
Despite that bumpy beginning, Richardson signed with the Huskers as part of Doc Sadler's first recruiting class.
Now, after a redshirt year and 116 games in four seasons, Richardson will be honored Wednesday on Senior Night — along with Toney McCray, Caleb Walker and Bo Spencer — before NU (12-15, 4-12) hosts Iowa (15-14, 7-9).
Once Richardson figured out where Nebraska was, the 6-foot, 190-pound guard wasn't sure he wanted to stay.
"The first summer was OK, but when school and practice started, I started having doubts about whether I could play in the Big 12," he said. "It just hit me all of a sudden. All freshmen have those thoughts.
"Luckily, I had great support around, people telling me to stick it out. Everybody goes through a challenge, but you stick with it, and I'm glad I did."
So are his teammates, who use the man known as "B-Rich'' as a role model for stick-to-itiveness.
"Ever since I came in," junior forward Brandon Ubel said, "he's been one of the best guys to be around. He has brought it every day for five years. I can't remember a day he took even half a percent off.
"He has meant a lot to me personally. He looked out for me when I was young and didn't really know what to expect."
Richardson said he doesn't know any other way to attack a challenge than with effort.
"I had great teachers," he said. "My mom and dad, they just put on their hard hats and went to work. They taught me that you do what you have to do to get by."
Richardson hasn't left a major imprint in the Husker record book, scoring 6.8 points a game. He is ninth all time in career steals (141) and third in free-throw percentage (.825).
Nagging injuries were a regular problem, including season-long woes last year from a severe ankle sprain suffered when he stepped on a referee in the opening minutes of the first exhibition game.
But in this season's first meeting with Iowa — a 79-73 Nebraska victory — he scored a career-high 25 points, including 6 of 7 3-pointers. That earned him co-Big Ten player of the week.
"Not to be selfish, but I played a great game,'' Richardson said. "Being the first Big Ten player of the week at Nebraska was a big accomplishment for me and Nebraska and my family.''
His next big accomplishment is picking up a diploma on May 5.
"My mother's birthday is May 8, so what better present is there to give her than that," Richardson said.
He wants to keep playing basketball before eventually using his sociology degree to do community work in gerontology, the study of how people age.
Barring a miracle change in Nebraska's current fortunes, Richardson will leave without an NCAA tournament appearance and only a single NIT victory.
"But I've learned a lot about myself here," he said. "It's been a rough five years, but at the same time, I've enjoyed it."
Ľ NOTES: Nebraska's Spencer is still undergoing treatment for a sprained ankle suffered Saturday, but is expected to play. ... Iowa senior guard Matt Gatens is averaging 21 points in his past eight games, boosting his season average to 15.7. ... Iowa was the first opponent for a college game at Nebraska in the Devaney Center in 1976. The Hawkeyes haven't been back since.
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