If you’re a Richmond fan, you’re going to miss T.J. Cline and ShawnDre’ Jones next season. The good news? De’Monte Buckingham might be one of the best up-and-coming players in the Atlantic 10. As a freshman, Buckingham has had some enormous games, and he’s only getting better as the season progresses. He recently had 19 points on 5 three pointers and pulled down 7 boards in a win over Fordham. He’s still a freshman, but he’s talented in all facets of the game: passing, shooting, rebounding, and defending. He can do it all.
Buckingham is my pick for A-10 Rookie of the Year, but he’s got some competition in Charlie Brown from Saint Joseph’s and Samir Doughty from VCU. While he’s been playing behind talented, experienced players in Cline and Jones all season long, he hasn’t been shy in putting up some big performances. Buckingham has 12 double digit scoring nights this season, and he has a career high 22 point game against Fordham.
Buckingham is averaging 9.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game this season. He reminds me a lot of Marquise Moore on George Mason. He hasn’t completely found his three point shot yet, but he gets hard earned buckets and rebounds like an absolute beast for his height. Buckingham is also one of the most underrated defenders in the league. He ranks top 25 in the A-10 in steal and block percentages. You’ll never catch Buckingham resting on a defensive possession. He plays hard all the time. He’s one of the better players in the A-10 on the defensive glass as well. He’s a freshman, but he’s already proving he can do it all.
Buckingham still has a ways to go, but he’s got the complete skill set to be Richmond’s star in the next few seasons. He can play anywhere from the 1 to the 4 realistically which makes him a flexible threat and almost impossible to defend. If Buckingham works on his three point shooting over the offseason, he’ll be even more lethal. Though he hasn’t shot the ball particularly well from deep this season (31.3%), he’s proven that he can still go off. Hitting 5 of his 9 three point attempts in his last game is a very good sign for Chris Mooney.
With the loss of some very valuable seniors, Richmond is going to be challenged extensively next season. What that means is that De’Monte Buckingham might become Richmond’s next best player. He’s only going to be a sophomore, but there are going to be big shoes for this kid to fill. As he’ll be getting a ton more playing time next season, I wouldn’t be surprised if his numbers skyrocket and he becomes one of the better players in the league. And this guy still has 3 seasons left with the Spiders. The future of Richmond’s program can no longer look to T.J. Cline, and next year especially, the Spiders are going to go as far as De’Monte Buckingham is able to take them.