Hometown: Riverton, Utah
Previous School: Wasatch Academy
Richie Saunders Player Preview
Richie Saunders was a key piece of BYU’s 2020 recruiting class, choosing the Cougars over offers from Creighton, Utah, Oregon State, Utah State, and others. He returned from his mission to Seattle in May and has responded quickly since returning home.
Richie was known primarily for his shooting in high school, and while I think that will always be a big part of his game, I think his defense and effort are what will be most impactful this season. We saw glimpses of it in Wednesday’s exhibition, but Richie plays hard on defense and creates second chance opportunities in offense. In some ways, I think he will be a similar player to what Zac Seljaas was his senior year. Seljaas was a good three-point shooter, but he was the “glue guy” on BYU’s roster that disrupted opposing offenses or created extra possessions due to his hustle. BYU hasn’t really had a player that truly filled that glue guy roll since Seljaas and Dalton Nixon graduated, but I think Saunders can be that guy who energizes the team with his hustle.
Saunders has had a great offseason, and showed well in BYU’s scrimmage win over Stanford October 22. Sources tell me that Saunders was one of the standouts in the game and caught Stanford by surprise with his shooting ability and defense.
Season Expectations: Rotation Player, Glue Guy
I called Richie Saunders one of this season’s surprise players two days before the Stanford scrimmage, and his performance in that game only solidified my prediction for that. I don’t expect him to put up huge scoring numbers, but his defense, hustle, effort, and shooting will all be noticeable when watching games.
If Richie can find his shooting stroke quickly and shoot at least 35% from three, then his hustle and defensive intensity will make it hard for coaches to keep him off the floor in a crowded wing/guard line.