After spending five long months in the United States due to the COVID-19 pandemic, former Loyola men’s basketball guard Ben Richardson is back overseas with a professional contract. The Overland Park, Kansas native will play for Massagno Basket in the Swiss Basketball League.
Massagno Basket is a professional basketball club based in Massagno, Switzerland. The team currently plays in the Swiss Basketball League, the highest professional basketball division in Switzerland.
Richardson is no stranger to European leagues, having played for teams in Poland and the Czech Republic. After a five-month break from professional basketball, he said he’s just excited to have actually gotten a contract.
“The market’s really bad,” Richardson said. “There’s a lot of really good players who are still at home waiting for a contract because a lot of the clubs in Europe got their budgets cut. So I feel extremely grateful this came through and it seems like it’s going to be a good fit and I’m excited about it.”
According to Richardson, it’s the foreign import players who got hurt the most when the pandemic caused teams to cut their budgets. There’s a lot more that goes into signing a foreign player rather than one from the country, so teams often defer to who’s already in the country, Richardson said.
This new deal comes after being released from his contract with BK Geosan Kolin in the Czech Republic. There he averaged 12.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.1 steals in 21 games. Richardson was only on a one-year deal, so he said his obligations with the Czech team were over once the league got shut down in March.
His agent quickly got to work, but due to the pandemic he wasn’t able to secure a deal for a few months.
Richardson signed a contract Oct. 5 and was on a plane headed to Switzerland less than 24 hours later. He said his agent had some connections with Massagno Basket and it all came together.
“They have some guys injured so they were kind of leaned out,” Richardson said. “The season’s first game is [Oct. 11], actually. It just made sense for both parties.”
The team is composed of two other Americans besides him, but it’s mostly domestic players. He said besides the jet lag, he’s been able to connect with the team.
Richardson started in Massagno Basket’s first game Oct. 11. He added nine points to the team’s 92-90 overtime win against Fribourg Olympic.
“It’s definitely good to be back in that team setting,” Richardson said. “It’s been a long time and over the summer, especially with the coronavirus, it’s been hard to get in the gym with 10 guys and actually play.”
Richardson helped lead Loyola to the Final Four in 2018. He was named the Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year and Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament’s South Regional after scoring a career-high 23 points in Loyola’s 78-62 victory over Kansas State University in the Elite Eight.
He is one of five former Ramblers playing overseas this year, along with Milton Doyle, Jordan Hicks, Aundre Jackson and Marques Townes.