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Billy Richmond embracing the Camden High School basketball culture

Billy Richmond, pictured, contributed 16 points in Camden's 77-43 win over West Catholic (Pa.) in Camden, New Jersey on Friday, December 23, 2022. Kevin Emmons/D2 Sports Network

CAMDEN (N.J.) - Billy Richmond wasn't acclimated to the passion and pride of basketball in the city of Camden until he witnessed it with his own eyes.

The junior transferred from Memphis East High School in Tennessee and immediately became a fan favorite in the city. Richmond's electrifying play has heightened the intensity on both ends of the floor and has brought out the best in his teammates.

And the roars of the Camden basketball faithful.

"They just be showing me love on and off the court," Richmond said. "I'm just now starting to see it. The fans, they love Camden. I want to be here. It's very special."

Richmond scored 14 out of his 16 points in the second half as Camden earned a 77-43 triumph over West Catholic (Pa.) on Friday night.

The four-star recruit scored the first points of the contest after the opening tip-off to ignite a 12-2 run for Camden. The Burrs concluded the period on a 9-0 run to cut their deficit to a point.

The Panthers responded with a 14-6 run to finish the opening half. Albany commit Cornelius "Boog" Robinson scored nine of his 12 points in the first half.

"We knew they were a good team," Camden coach Maalik Wayns said. "We knew they were going to make runs. We just tried to keep our composure and our biggest thing is playing for a full 32 minutes."

The 14-6 spurt in the second quarter put Camden ahead by 11 points at intermission.

Richmond was the catalyst of a 25-6 run in the third quarter, scoring six out of Camden's first eight points of the period. The junior's continued pursuit on shot attempts generated second chance opportunities for the Panthers against West Catholic's one-three-one zone defense.

"Coach Maalik told me to just maintain and be aggressive on the court," Richmond said. "Just get rebounds because they were in a one-three-one so it gave me an opportunity to get more rebounds."

Wayns, a former guard for Villanova and the Philadelphia 76ers, has been impressed with Richmond's capabilities as an athlete.

He doesn't see many juniors in the nation on the same level.

"He's amazing," Wayns said. "Honestly speaking, I've seen a lot of kids in the country (in the) Class of 2024. I don't really see too many kids that are more talented and a better player than him in that class. He's an elite athlete, an elite playmaker, defends, competes at a high level, flying up and down the court, athleticism is off the charts."

Kentucky commit D.J. Wagner tallied a game-high 17 points for Camden. Wagner finished 6-for-8 from the charity stripe and scored 10 points in the second half.

The No. 1 ranked player in the Class of 2023 according to ESPN has also enjoyed Richmond's presence.

"He definitely brings a lot of energy to the team," Wagner said. "It's been fun playing with him. He gets the crowd involved. They love him out here."

Richmond went on an unofficial visit to Memphis. The junior also cited former Orlando Magic guard Penny Hardaway as an early influence on his basketball career.

"It was a great experience," he said. "I grew up around Penny every day when I was young. I used to go watch Memphis East play when I was a little kid. I just learned everything from him."

The junior currently holds offers from Louisville, Memphis, Mississippi State, Seton Hall and Saint Louis. Richmond also stated Kentucky and Miami (FL) have shown interest.

Coppin State commit Adam "Budd" Clark led West Catholic with a team-high 15 points. Temple commit Zion Stanford and Shemar Wilbanks-Acqui added eight points each.

Kentucky commit Aaron Bradshaw added 12 points for the Panthers. Wagner, Richmond, Robinson and Bradshaw combined for 57 points.

Camden improved its record to 5-0 and established momentum heading into the John Wall Invitational in Raleigh, North Carolina.

"Every game is our next biggest game," Wayns said. "Every game we play, that's our biggest opponent. We don't look ahead. We just try and take it one game at a time and get better every day."

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