To find the most competitive, high-level basketball being played in the Nashville area over the last six months, you wouldn’t head to Bridgestone Arena, Memorial Gymnasium or the Curb Event Center or Allen Arena - you would simply go to wherever Jamal and Spencer Richardson were.
In front of a lucky handful of onlookers, the Brentwood-based cousins have organized a series of “pro run” competitions, featuring the most impressive collection of hoops talent in the state.
There you’ll find some heavy hitters: Robert Covington of the Houston Rockets, Jordan Bone of the Detroit Pistons, Garrison Mathews of the Washington Wizards (and a Franklin High alum), a pair of Cleveland Cavaliers in Brentwood Academy alum Darius Garland and Dylan Windler, and even a couple of NBA champions in Ian Clark and Damian Jones, among other Nashville basketball royalty.
And it’s not just the NBA-level players. Ensworth star Skyy Clark, one of the top recruits in the state, leads a bevy of top pro prospects featured in these all-star pickup games.
The Avengers of Nashville basketball are gathered by All-Around Game, a company founded by cousins Jamal and Spencer Richardson.
“It’s almost like a good alternative to getting your fix for basketball when the NBA season ended,” Jamal said. “It was a blessing to be able to watch those guys really compete and get after it. We’re a big family in regards to All-Around Game. We really pour into each other and really push and challenge one another. Iron sharpens iron.”
AAG does a little bit of everything in their quest to help better the Nashville basketball community. What started out as some training sessions at the Franklin Fieldhouse has morphed into a multi-platform basketball service.
The duo offer a number of workout packages for individuals and groups, coach a handful of AAU programs including Team Brandan Wright -- the girls AAU team sponsored by the former NBA player and Brentwood Academy legend -- and train several professional clients.
“We have had an opportunity to really just dive into multiple lanes and that’s allowed us to be very versatile with it,” Jamal said. “But more important is being able to impact people. That's the most important thing we've been able to do.”
Jamal and Spencer were both college basketball players themselves. Following a stint at Maplewood (“We wear that on our sleeves, and we put that in our hearts. Maplewood is a big reason why we are where we are today.”), Spencer played for Shawnee College in Illinois and Jamal suited up for Auburn University-Montgomery.
But basketball was in their blood. Spencer’s dad was a McDonald’s All-American and played at Mississippi State, while Jamal’s dad was a lifelong coach.
“I think having that coaching foundation coming from my dad and just from the love of the game from both my dad and my uncle, that's kind of rooted us,” Jamal said. “I think playing in college, I learned a lot of things about the small nuances of the game and including an ability to be able to articulate that to players in a way to where they can understand and grow and be able to evolve their games.”
When the cousins returned to Nashville post college, they started out by training a few clients, including Wright.
“When I came back, Spencer called me and asked me to come help him out,” Jamal said. “At that time, I was kind of out of touch with the game. So I just came in to help them out at that time and went out there, man, and fell in love with it. So, me and him, we've been a tag-team duo ever since.”
The rest of the pursuits have formed along the way, in large part because of the connections the two had made growing up in the Nashville basketball community. The two have known Wright since playing together for the Maplewood Junior Pro. Spencer coached Bone when he was in middle school at the Ensworth Futures League. Jamal went to school with Covington at Tennessee State following his transfer from AUM.
“All our pro clients came from relationships that happened organically, people just connecting the dots and putting the pieces together,” Jamal said. “We've been very blessed and fortunate to be in a position where we are able to work with such great quality guys, and we would never take that for granted.”
Despite all the success, the cousins insist that they’re far from the only people doing similar work to improve the Nashville basketball landscape.
“I'm very proud of our city,” Jamal said. “We’ve got great trainers and coaches. Adrian Williamson, Marcus Kinzer, Jeremiah Crutcher, and the list goes on and on. It's a lot of people. They play a very important hand into the development of Nashville basketball.
"I'm just very fortunate to be able to be a part of that. It's a collective effort. It's a unified ordeal and just making sure that we're providing these players with the right tutelage and knowledge to be able to tap into being the best version of themselves.”
According to Jamal, and others both locally and nationally, the future of Nashville-area basketball continues to look bright. Former Brentwood Academy star Darius Garland was the 5th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Former Ensworth big man James Wiseman could be the number one overall pick in this year’s draft. Skyy Clark’s younger brother Z.Z., currently the Ensworth point guard, is projected to be an NBA-level player in the near future. Skyy will be playing at Kentucky when he graduates in 2022.
Cane Ridge small forward Brandon Miller is a five-star recruit for the Class of 2022 and has offers from many top programs like Tennessee, Florida and Vanderbilt, per 247 Sports, who has him as its 10th-best in the nation for that year.
“I'm excited for our city,” Jamal said. “We want to make Nashville a prominent basketball city. We got a lot of talent here, so I think people are starting to take notice to see what's going on.”
Whatever happens next, you can expect the Richardsons to be involved.
“I think it was just a responsibility with us being from this city, we wanted to make sure that we played our part in helping Nashville basketball culture to get back to what it used to be,” Jamal said. “We've never been the ones to deem ourselves better than anybody else, but we do take huge pride into making sure that we do our part in helping change the culture and giving these kids an opportunity to change their lives through the game and to maximize the best version of themselves and to bring a light to Nashville.
"Because I think we have a lot here to be offered. I think we're often kind of slept on. We’re just trying to put Nashville basketball on the map.”