Saying WNBA standout DiDi Richards is coming off an outstanding year seems to be a huge understatement.
That’s because it is.
The Cypress Ranch and Baylor product overcame paralysis from a freak accident in practice her senior year at Baylor in October 2020, finished out her final year with the Bears and then went on to be drafted in the second round (17th overall) of the WNBA Draft by the New York Liberty.
Richards, a 6-foot-2 shooting guard, certainly had her ups and downs while stepping up into the pros. She was impressive enough to earn her way onto the WNBA Rookie Team this past fall. Along the way, Richards also became an advocate for important movements such as Black Lives Matter and mental health.
Richards, who also hopes to make a name in modeling, is preparing for season two with the Liberty this spring and hoping for bigger and better this things.
Richards took some time recently to talk with The Defender about her career, life and the vision she has for herself.
Defender: What went through your mind when you were drafted by the Liberty last spring?
Richards: Initially, I was clearly upset that I fell as low as I did, being picked No. 17. But I was excited to be in New York. I wanted to be in either New York or L.A. because those are cities I think I can thrive in. But, I definitely am glad I am here, and hopefully I’m here to stay.
Defender: How would you say your rookie season with the Liberty went?
Richards: I thought it went well, in my opinion. I had like a great story coming in and getting hurt the last game of my last college season and coming into training camp hurt and then trying to get a groove that I never even had. This is a different kind of groove that I feel like I never really had in my game.
I think Dustin Gray, who is my assistant coach, did a great job at developing me in a manner of four or five months. So, having six or seven months with him this offseason is going to be great.
Defender: How would you say the WNBA experience was different than your previous basketball experiences?
Richards: “I think you kind of go through the same thing being a freshman in high school, a freshman in college and now a rookie in the WNBA. But I think what makes it different than those two is the strength…It’s just such a huge gap between rookie and vet. I think that is the hardest thing I had to grasp. You are going to have to find ways that you don’t look like a rookie on the court, whether that was using my feet or using my quickness.
Defender: What was your biggest adjustment in stepping up to the WNBA?
Richards: I think offensively, the game is so spread out. It’s more ran like an NBA offense. And I was sort of used to three guards and two posts. I’m now running four guards and one post, who really isn’t a post and bring the ball up. I think that was the biggest adjustment. Other than that, it would be mentally because we played every night, it felt like. When you lost a game, you couldn’t really dwell on that loss. You had to get ready to play in 24 hours. So, I thought that was kind of difficult too.
Q: What are you doing during the offseason?
A: I want to model, I think everyone in the world knows that. Just figuring what angle to take on that and figuring out which modeling agency I want to be with and just to expand my brand off the court. I think that’s the biggest thing.
I think everyone has a story, everyone has a brand that they want to pursue. Me being the person I am has a lot of different angles I want to take and it’s just a matter of me being able to tie all of that into one or even multiple things that I want to do.
Defender: So, is the plan to make New York your home now?
Richards: Houston will always be home, but I haven’t been back to Houston since the season. I’m loving the space out here, I’m loving the fast life so this is going to be my new spot.