In our #ThrowBackThursday we take a look back at some of the players who have impacted First Division basketball in Belgium. This time around we’ll look back at a very charismatic and humble big man who dominated the Belgian paints with his defensive presence: none other than Andre Riddick, also known as “The Rejector”.
Never before did someone have such a huge impact on the Belgian courts without hardly ever scoring a bucket. With his thin 2m08 tall frame and those extendable arms of his – combined with his athleticism – Riddick had a knack for shutting down the paint with his tremendous shot blocking ability, usually staring them down afterwards with those ‘swimming goggle’-type glasses on. You can be certain that his opponents thought twice about trying to enter the paint again after that. Along with his shot blocking ability Riddick was also a beast on the boards on both ends of the floor and frequently rounded-up one of his offensive rebounds with the thunderous jam. Those were the skills that helped him to a professional basketball career that lasted an impressive 18 seasons. Not bad for a kid that wasn’t all that much into basketball to begin with.
Growing up in a rough neighborhood in New York City surrounded by drugs, violence and crime a young Andre Riddick turned to sports to try and stay out of trouble. Football, baseball and basketball. In that order. Fortunately for the Belgian basketball fans Riddick’s High School didn’t have a football team and it quickly became clear that he was a lousy baseball player. And so, the then 1m93 tall youngster turned his attention to basketball.
It didn’t take long for him to realize that he was actually pretty good at this game and other people started to notice it as well. When he was selected as the MVP of his first ever AAU Boys Basketball tournament, invites from colleges started coming in. The first one among them… from The University of Kentucky with legendary coach Rick Pitino at the helm. Although he had other offers, Riddick enrolled at Kentucky. It wasn’t a difficult choice, really. He would spend an eventful 4 years (1991-’95) at Kentucky in which he set long-standing records for total blocks in a season (83) and total blocks in a single game (9). Both records have since been broken though, by Anthony Davis (186) and Nerlens Noel (12) respectively. Good company to be in. With Kentucky Riddick reached the Final Four of the NCAA tournament in 1993 and he seemed on his way to another Final Four berth in 1995 when things went wrong in the Elite-Eight game against North Carolina with Riddick in the thick of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQECNSfpjy0
Despite still viewing basketball as a means to an end rather than a passion, Riddick then started his professional career in Japan where he signed with the Bosch Blue Winds for the 1995-’96 season. The following seasons he pretty much played all year round as he passed through Taiwan, Venezuela, Dominican Republic and Dijon in the French Pro A where he spent 2 seasons (1999-’01). In his second year at JDA Dijon Basket he averaged a double-double over the course of the season with 11.0 ppg & 10.6 rpg. A feat he repeated the following year, this time playing for Paris Basket Racing (French Pro A): 11.7 ppg, 10.1 rpg and adding an astonishing 3.1 bpg.
In 2002 Riddick then signed with Spirou Basket Charleroi and would wear the red/white outfit for 11 seasons until his retirement in 2013 at the age of 40. In those 11 seasons Riddick collected 6 Belgian Championship titles and 2 Belgian Cup titles, along with the Belgian Championship Player of the Year award which he received for his performance in the 2003-’04 season (11.0 ppg & 8.0 rpg). And I think it’s fair to say that somewhere along the way in those 18 years he also – finally – started to truly love the game of basketball.
With his playing career now over Andre Riddick remains attached to the game and has launched his second career as a coach and personal basketball trainer with his agency ARJ Basketball/Andre Riddick. So far, he has been a volunteer coach at Heritage Academy (Middle School) and St. Paul’s Catholic school in Kentucky (Middle School). For the 2015-’16 season he was then signed as an Assistant Coach at UC-Clermont (USCAA DII), followed by 2 years as an Assistant Coach for the Tri-State Warriors Basketball program (AAU).
We at TIB salute you and wish you all the best!