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Stickdog Profile #3 - Rick Rickert

Our pal Stickdog has agreed to write up some profiles of hot shot high schoolers for us. Here's his
third installment. Stick Dog follows recruiting passionately and we've
enjoyed his insights and thought you would too.

Standard Disclaimer: This is the third of a series of reports written to
introduce hardcore Duke and other college basketball fans to a number of
highly talented rising senior high school basketball players. All of these
players have mentioned at least some interest in attending Duke, but I have
no idea exactly how highly they rate Duke on their lists. Nor do I know or
purport to know the recruiting priorities of the Duke coaching staff. I have
seen several of these players in summer competitions, but there are many
that I have never had the pleasure of watching. Most of the information
about these players comes from various reputable internet reports and local
newspaper prep coverage. However, parts of these profiles may consist of fan
reports, internet rumors and correspondences that may or may not be
completely accurate. Any corrections to these player introductions by those
who know better would be greatly appreciated.

Meet Rick Rickert

Continuing the theme of versatile and talented high school prospects, Rick
Rickert is a 6'10" 210lb forward/center from Duluth East High in Duluth,
Minnesota. Rick is the consensus number one rising senior in Minnesota and a
consensus national top 25 prospect. He has a unique set of skills including
great shooting ability to NBA three point range and an exceptional handle
for a 6'10" player. Rick even sports a nice crossover dribble. In fact, his
high school coach, Bob Kunze, swears that Rickert is his best guard and
utilizes Rick's ball handling ability to break pressure. In addition,
Rickert has the ability to go around players who come out on him and finish
strong at the hoop. He is also a fine rebounder, a good shot blocker, an
exceptional interior scorer with either hand, and he passes extraordinarily
well for a player of his size.

Rickert combines his fundamentally sound interior skills with very good
athletic ability. He is a multidimensional scorer who mixes dunks with a
turnaround jumper, a deadly spin move and nice touch facing the basket from
10 feet all the way out to 22 feet. He is adept at creating assists out of
the double team and triple team situations he often encounters in high
school play, and he has played all five positions on the floor. He has been
compared to Troy Murphy, Christian Laettner and even Kevin Garnett, and he
already handles the ball as well as any of them. As you might expect, the
knock on Rickert is that he does not yet possess the strength or mindset to
dominate inside and that he sometimes floats on the perimeter too much.
Although he has the requisite offensive skills of a wing forward, he
probably does not have the foot speed needed to cover ACC caliber wing
forwards on defense. However, Rick can certainly cover most power forwards,
and offensively he can take these players outside of their comfort zones to
create mismatches. In high school, Rickert is a very consistent player who
is generally good for far better than a double double--even on his worst
nights. He is also a fighter who plays with drive, emotion and intensity,
and he won't back down from a challenge, no matter how daunting.

Rickert played in the prestigious Nike Camp as just a rising sophomore, but
he really caught the attention of coaches when he returned to Nike last
summer brimming with confidence and ready to play hard every game. At the
time, he weighed in at only 185, but big time coaches and scouts all liked
the way he fought inside and more than held his own against bigger and older
players. Later in the summer, Rickert continued his fine play with the
California-based AAU squad Pump'n'Run in several summer tournaments, and he
was also selected to play with a national team that traveled to a tournament
in France.

By the end of the summer, Rick was entrenched on all reputable national
listings of the top rising juniors. Prepstars ranks Rickert the 20th best
rising senior. Dan Monson, the coach who replaced Clem Haskins at Minnesota,
calls Rick "the number one prospect" in the state. Vince Baldwin of ranks Rickert as the seventh best rising senior in the

Believe it or not, Rickert's high school career even outshines his summer
exploits. Rickert made the varsity team at Duluth East as a 9th grader. He
started the year quietly, but he improved each game and ended his season
with a stunning coming out party. In a state playoff loss that was televised
locally, a 14-year-old Rickert went off for an amazing triple double-29
points, 15 boards and 12 blocks.

As a sophomore at Duluth East, Rick averaged 23 points, 11 rebounds and 5
blocks a game while shooting 59% from the field. By the end of his sophomore
year, Rick had developed enough confidence and skill that he wanted the ball
in his hands at crunch time. He learned to handle constant pressure and to
make nifty passes out the double and triple teams he often saw. He brought
other interior players outside, where he exploited them with his shooting
and driving skills. The eventual state champion Forest Lake team ended the
Duluth East Greyhounds' season prematurely, but not before Rickert went off
for 28 points and barely missed a 35 footer that would have won the game for
his team as time expired. He was the first sophomore ever to be named the
Duluth News-Tribune player of the year, and he was named second team
all-state in a very good year for Minnesota high school prospects.

As a junior, Rickert continued tearing up the best high school competition
in Minnesota. He ended the year averaging 29 points, 15 rebounds, 5 blocks
and 3 assists a game while shooting 57% from the field, 86% from the free
throw line and 49% from three point land. The Associated Press named him
co-Player of the Year with senior UNC recruit Adam Boone. At one point
during the season, Rick managed to knock in an incredible 44 consecutive
free throws. His Duluth East team went 19-6 and lost no game by more than 6
points. The Greyhounds' season ended in a 57-55 loss to Moorhead in the
Section 8AAAA semifinals despite Rickert's 29 point and 19 rebound effort.

Some of Rickert's junior year high school exploits are so incredible that
they deserve special mention. He led his team to an incredible
come-from-behind 64-57 victory over Superior in three overtime periods. He
scored 37 points in the game and 21 of his team's 31 points in the fourth
quarter. Rick hit 5 three pointers, including 3 in the second overtime.
''When (Rickert) moves out 28 feet from the basket, and starts making those
3-pointers, there's not much you can do,'' said Superior coach Larry Cole.

Earlier in the season, Rickert led Duluth East to a 56-51 victory against
Adam Boone's strong Minnetonka team, scoring 30 points to Boone's 21 and
adding 12 rebounds and 5 blocks for good measure. In another incredible two
game stretch, Rick followed a 49 point and 21 rebound game with an
awe-inspiring 44 point, 21 rebound and 10 block triple-double.

Rickert has been playing this spring with Pump'n'Run Gold, a very talented
California-based AAU squad that travels to various tournaments on a weekly
basis. He has been focusing on showing off his perimeter game and this has
disappointed some observers who would like to see him play more aggressively
underneath the basket. However, the Pump'n'Run team has several inside
players without Rick's efficient perimeter skills, so he is fulfilling a
team role while expanding his game. Besides hitting the summer AAU
tournaments, Rickert plans on attending the NBA Players Association camp and
the Adidas ABCD camp. He has also been invited to the USA Youth Development
Festival in Colorado Springs, June 17th-21st. In July, I hope to watch Rick
perform at the Big Time Tournament in Las Vegas.

Rick is a good student with close to a 3.5 GPA. He is planning to take the
ACT and the SAT tests in June, and he should have little trouble posting a
qualifying score. Although Rick has managed to put on almost 25 pounds in
the past year, he hasn't been lifting weights. He is planning on starting
weight training this summer in earnest because his growth has finally
stabilized. Rick is also planning on adding a suite of hook shots to his
already impressive offensive repertoire.

Rick isn't the only basketball star in his family. His father, Lew Rickert,
played for the University of Minnesota and the University of
Minnesota-Duluth after a career as a Duluth high school star. Rick's 14 year
old sister, Natalie averaged 1.2 blocks a game as a 9th grade varsity player
at Duluth East, and she may appear on her own recruiting charts before too

Both of Rick's parents, Sue and Lew, and his high school coach are helping
Rick with his recruiting details so that he can concentrate on basketball,
his tests and his school work. Rick has said that in making his college
choice, he is most concerned with his relationship with his future coach and
teammates. He likes warm weather and (perhaps as a consequence) proximity to
home is not important. He would rather play forward than center, he hopes to
get significant playing time as a freshman, and he wants to go a top 25 team
with a legitimate shot of getting to the Final Four every year. The Rickert
family has always liked Minnesota's program, but with probation looming, the
home state university will probably not be much of a factor in this race.

Rick has already visited Minnesota, Kansas and Arizona unofficially, and he
seemed especially impressed by his visit with Lute Olsen. Kansas has been
watching Rick for years. Tom Izzo, Billy Donovan and the Duke coaching staff
have all been to Minnesota to watch Rickert work out. Steve Alford of Iowa
was in the stands for Duluth East's victory over Adam Boone's Minnetonka
squad. Arizona and Iowa are thought by many to be Rick's current favorite
choices, but Duke and Florida are always mentioned prominently, too. Other
colleges with a fighting chance for Rick's services include Minnesota,
Michigan State, North Carolina State, Utah, Missouri, Kentucky, Wisconsin,
Kansas, Connecticut and Syracuse. Rick has said he wants UNC to recruit him,
but that so far they have shown little or no interest. Rick's coach Bob
Kunze says that UNC "missed the boat" on a potentially important future Tar

Rickert has said he could sign in the fall if he is completely comfortable
with his choice, but that he will probably wait until spring in order to
make the most informed decision. In a recent interview with Mike Sullivan of
Insiders Report, Rick had this to say about Duke's chances, "Duke is a great
academic school. It's filled with a great basketball tradition. They have
already come and seen me play."

Rick Rickert is a unique player with a great set of skills and an impressive
work ethic. He is the type of winner that Duke fans like to see wearing a
Duke uniform, but great college basketball fans everywhere will enjoy
watching him develop into a star at whichever university he feels will give
him the best opportunity to realize his dreams.