SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ — The nation's No. 11 basketball recruit paid a visit to Union Catholic in Scotch Plains Saturday, but it didn't last long. Patrick School center Nick Richards, the No. 1-ranked player in New Jersey and a Kentucky commit, was ejected along with Union Catholic's Jordan Pierce, a Dayton commit, after fighting a wild brawl that erupted in the game's first 30 seconds.
Richards and Pierce went up for a rebound when the 6'11" Pierce grabbed the 6'11" Richards by the neck. Richards took exception and swung at Pierce. The two then engaged in a shoving match with additional hands swung before each player was held back by teammates and officials. After a lengthy review process, both players received flagrant fouls and were ejected from the game. Potential suspensions are unknown at this point.
While the game started off in crazy fashion, it ended in an even more bizarre way. With Patrick School clinging to a three-point lead entering the fourth quarter, Union Catholic was on the brink of pulling an upset after going on a 10-0 run in the third quarter. Union Catholic in-bounded the ball to start the fourth quarter, and the Vikings' guard held the ball still for seven minutes — there's no shot clock in New Jersey high school basketball — keeping the score 39-36 with Patrick School ahead until the one-minute mark, when Union Catholic hit a layup to make it a one-point game. The Vikings had to foul to stop the clock, however, and the Celtics' Buay Koka, a Tulane commit, hit both free throws to put the game on ice.
The game was a highly hyped one, as Patrick School is currently the No. 1-ranked team in New Jersey and No. 14-ranked team in the country, according to MaxPreps. Patrick School, formerly St. Patrick, is coached by former Rutgers University head coach Mike Rice, and is one of the country's most storied high school basketball teams.
Richards, ejected during Saturday's contest, is rated the No. 11 player in the Class of 2017, according to the ESPN Top 100. Just ahead of Richards are stars such as Michael Porter Jr., Trevon Duval, Kevin Knox and Collin Sexton.