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Richmond’s Blake Francis declares for 2021 NBA Draft

Blake Francis
Richmond guard Blake Francis. Photo courtesy University of Richmond Athletics.

Blake Francis will declare for the 2021 NBA Draft and begin his professional basketball career, the Spiders guard announced on Tuesday.

Francis, who earned his undergraduate degree from Richmond in May 2020, has spent the past year pursuing a master’s degree in human resources management at Richmond.

He will forgo the additional year of eligibility granted to current student-athletes by the NCAA due to the impacts of COVID-19.

“First and foremost, I would like to thank God for his protection and strength,” Francis said in a statement posted on social media. “I would also like to thank my parents, my brother and my girlfriend for their unwavering love, loyalty and support; your belief in me means more than words. I would also like to thank and extend my sincere gratitude to Coach Mooney, his staff, and the University of Richmond for an incredible opportunity to further my education and basketball career. To my teammates, it has been time well spent – thank you for welcoming me and pushing me to be great. With that being said, I have decided to forgo my extra year of eligibility and declare for the NBA Draft and pursue my professional career. Thank you Spider Nation!”

“I am so happy for Blake as he begins his professional basketball career,” said Richmond coach Chris Mooney. “He will pursue this dream with great focus and energy! Blake has been an outstanding player for us and a tremendous Spider on and off the court. His ability, desire, intensity, and competitiveness have been critical to our program and we thank him for his many contributions. We wish Blake the best of luck!”

Francis started his college career at Wagner before transferring to Richmond in 2018. After sitting out the 2018-19 season due to NCAA regulations, Francis was Richmond’s leading scorer in 2019-2020 and 2020-2021, earning Second Team All-Atlantic 10 honors following each season. He will leave Richmond with the seventh-highest scoring average in program history after averaging 17.0 points in 45 games for the Spiders.

Richmond went 33-12 with Francis in the lineup over the last two seasons, posting wins over national powerhouses such as Wisconsin in the 2019 Legends Classic and Kentucky in the 2020 Bluegrass Showcase. Francis’s 17 points per game over that span ranks fifth-best in the Atlantic 10 among players to participate in each season.

Francis is seeking to become the latest pro produced by the Richmond program during the Chris Mooney era. 22 of Mooney’s former players at UR have gone on to play professionally, including at least one from 11 of the last 14 graduating classes.

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