Tierani Richardson signs with Arkansas Tech
Murray State College sophomore Tierani Richardson has signed on to play college basketball at the next level. Richardson has signed to play with Arkansas Tech University, an NCAA Division II program in the Great American Conference. She heads to Russellville, Arkansas to play for Head Coach Dave Wilbers and the Golden Suns in the fall.
“We have always been impressed with who she is as a person, student, and athlete,” says Coach Wilbers. “She is a winner! She has won at all the levels of basketball that she has played and led her teams to the highest level of success.”
Richardson says that Coach Wilbers had wanted her to be a Golden Sun since her freshman year at MSC. When that didn’t work out, he tried again this year. The persistence of the Arkansas Tech coaching staff made an impression on her.
“How much they wanted me really meant so much to me,” she says. “Arkansas Tech is a top-ten D2 program. Coach Wilbers has been there for many years and has developed the program into a top notch competitor. He believes in all of his players and pushes them to their limits.”
Richardson says Coach Wilbers’ reminds her of her high school coach Toby Todd in the way he conducts his team. Wilbers, Todd, former MSC coach Phil Daniel, and MSC Head Women’s Basketball Coach Justin Cellum have all contributed to Richardson’s growth as a player. The 5’3” shooting guard says none of these coaches see her size as a disadvantage.
“Coach Cellum was not afraid to tell me to drive, and to not just rely on my shot,” she says. “Even though I was small, I was able to get to the basket and lay it up, or get to the free throw line.”
Cellum says that ability to get to the free throw line and convert was one of the big ways she helped the Aggies this year. Richardson was 2nd in the nation in free throw attempts with 250, converting 195 of those to points on the scoreboard. But the three-point shot is her specialty. She made 204 3-point goals in her two years at MSC. She scored 648 points in her sophomore season (8th in the nation) and 1039 total points in her career at MSC.
“We knew any time we needed a big shot we could go to Tierani,” says Cellum. “She just has that ability to knock down shots no matter the situation. At Arkansas Tech she’ll bring a great work ethic and energy to their program along with her ability to score the basketball.”
Wilbers agrees that she is one of the best shooters in the nation. “With us running the floor, and always one of the top teams in the nation in scoring, she can continue her success,” he says. “She competes every game and we are looking forward to her being a valuable member of one of the elite Division II teams in the nation.”
Richardson, the daughter of Chuck and Rena Richardson of Ardmore, graduated from Sulphur High School where she was a member of the 2013 3A State Basketball Champion team. She was also selected for the Oklahoma Girls Basketball Coaches Association All-State Team, the 2013 3A State Tournament All-Tournament Team, the 2013 Bertha Teague All-Tournament Team, the Ardmoreite Superteam (2010, 2012, 2013), the LCC All-Conference Team (2010, 2012, 2013), the 2010 OBU All-Tournament Team, and was named the 2010 Offensive Player of the Year. In her first year as a Aggie, Richardson was selected as first team All-Conference, All-Region, and an NJCAA All-Star. In her sophomore year, she helped the team win the Region 2 title, earning another All-Region honor and the Region Tournament MVP award.
She will graduate from MSC in May and plans to pursue a degree in broadcast journalism at Arkansas Tech, a pursuit that takes her on a bit of a detour from her intended career path. Arkansas Tech does not offer a degree in speech pathology, which is Richardson’s goal. Richardson turned the obstacle into an opportunity, a decision her family supports.
“We talked about it as a family and decided she could get a newscast/sportscast journalism degree there and then afterwards go to [The University of Central Oklahoma] and get the original degree she wanted which is speech pathology,” says Rena Richardson. “That will take her another year and a half, but she is smart enough to handle it.”
Another challenge she will have to face is living in another state. Richardson says she knows being away from home on a bigger campus will be a challenge, but she is ready to face it.
“I'm looking forward to how big the campus is,” she says. “I come from a small town and school, and ArkTech has 13,000 students. I can meet and interact with so many new people. This will be a great opportunity for me to grow and truly discover who I am and my purpose in life.”
She says she is thankful for the opportunity to play at the next level, and grateful that basketball is helping to pay for her education. She hopes other college athletes know how lucky they are as well.
“Not many people get to play a sport after high school, and I am blessed to be able to. I just don't want to take this opportunity for granted, whether you're playing D1, D2, D3, NAIA, or any other league; it doesn't matter, because there is someone out there who would love to be in your spot--so be thankful.”