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Slam dunk champ helps raise daughter’s game


Jason Richardson, the former Michigan State standout who played 14 seasons in the National Basketball Association, knows what it feels like to be in a pressure-packed basketball game.

However, he admits that stress as a player is nothing like the tension he feels when watching his daughter Jaela play high school basketball for Cherry Creek.

"There's so much pressure watching her play," said Richardson who has made his home in the Denver area for the past two years. "No matter what your child does, you want your child to succeed. When she makes a turnover or misses a shot it's like, 'Oh man, come on.' There's definitely more pressure watching her.

"It's definitely a lot of fun just watching where she came from to the player she is now. It's fun seeing her out there being a young adult."

Jaela Richardson played last season at Heritage High in Saginaw, Michigan, but a knee injury ended her season in February. She chose to join her father in Colorado and enrolled at Cherry Creek.

"I get a lot of advice from my Dad," she said. "After every game, we watch film and go over not only what I'm doing, but what my teammates are doing. And what I can do better and we can do better as a team. I tell him, Dad if I did something, let me know. If the team did something, let me know, so we can make the team better."

Jaela, a 6-foot junior who missed several games early this season while completing rehab from need surgery, is averaging 9.4 points and 8.1 rebounds a game for a Bruins team loaded with tall players.

"I'm trying to work more on becoming more of a guard," she said. "There are plenty of opportunities with our offense that allow me to be on the perimeter, and I have to take advantage of it."

Jason Richardson - the NBA slam dunk contest winner in 2002 and 2003 - knows it's hard for his daughter to get the experience needed to play a perimeter position that she will likely have to play in college. In high school, good inside players are needed.

"It's difficult for her to do that, but it's part of the game she has to work on," said Richardson, who at 6-6 played shooting guard and small forward for several NBA teams, retiring in 2015. "She has one more year. Last year was a wash - she was hurt and wasn't able to work on her jump shot or dribbling. She has a big summer ahead of her. She has to put up a lot of shots and do a lot of ball handling and get used to shooting the ball.

"It was a different style of basketball in Michigan, more physical, more defense and not the high-scoring games. Out here, there a lot more girls that are skilled and more 3-point shooting and stuff like that. She wanted to develop her game and that's why she chose to move out here."

On a winning note

Kyle Cisneros knows how to go out on top.

The Jefferson senior won the Class 3A championship at 132 pounds with an 8-3 decision over Brandon Damian of Valley at the Colorado State Wrestling Championships over the weekend.

It was the second consecutive state title after winning at 126 pounds in 2016.

He also leaves Colorado high school wrestling as the all-time leader with 177 career wins.

"It was a great way to finish my career in high school," Cisneros said. "I couldn't ask to finish any other way."

Jim Benton is a sports writer for Colorado Community Media. He has been covering sports in the Denver area since 1968. He can be reached at jbenton@coloradocommunitymedia.com or at 303-566-4083.

Jim Benton


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