Antonio Maddox spent the majority of his Richfield basketball career epitomizing what head boys basketball coach Omar McMillan expected from his players.
Maddox was named a team captain prior to his sophomore season at Richfield and was often times the player the opposition had to key in on each time he stepped onto the floor. Off the court, Maddox’s work ethic and dedication to the team helped turn the Richfield program around. After earning a combined five wins during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons, Maddox has helped Richfield secure 10-win seasons in each of the past two years.
“[Helping turn the Richfield boys basketball program around] took a lot of mental help, we had to know we had to come in with that fire,” Maddox said. “We had to come in with the mentality that nobody was better, and once we got big-headed it carried onto the court, while off the court we stayed out of trouble.”
With Maddox having graduated following the 2016-17 school year, McMillan knows his program will have a hard time replacing its three-year captain.
“Antonio is going to leave a hole behind,” McMillan said. “He is a kid that does everything you asked offensively and defensively, he grew and we watched him progress and, realistically, he is one of the Richfield kids that was here from freshman through his senior year, so you watched him develop through the middle school years.
“He is going to leave a big void in the program.”
Devin Wade-Henderson, who transferred to Richfield prior to the start of the 2016-17 school year, said he was inspired by watching Maddox lead the Richfield program.
“He showed me what it meant to be a leader and how to lead your team out there,” Wade-Henderson said. “He’s why we’re here every day, even when we’re not working out I’m here every day looking to help the people behind me because that’s what he did.”
While he is set to leave Richfield for Valley City State University in North Dakota, Maddox said he will never forget the time he spent with the Spartans.
“My [time as a Richfield Spartan] was a great experience,” Maddox said. “To play at that varsity level when I did, I’m happy Coach O gave me the captain position, it turned me into a good leader on and off the court.
“It changed my game and I developed more and more heading into each year, preparing for the competition. I loved being a Spartan.”
“I’ll miss this for sure,” Maddox added. “I couldn’t imagine what it would be like if I ended up at any Minneapolis school or down the road at Holy Angels.
“The Richfield red, that’s the color I bleed.”
Maddox’s senior year was impacted heavily by injuries to his lower body, but he did his best to work through the adversity to help his team succeed. Maddox led the Spartans to the Section 3AAA title game, where the Spartans fell to St. Thomas Academy.
“[Not getting to the state tournament] was very disappointing,” Maddox said. “I don’t think I ever cried so much in a matter of five minutes, we all knew we had the potential to go to that big stage and play in front of that big crowd at the Barn.
“We were just three points short and it hurt a lot, we could have won that game, no doubt.”
While Maddox did not secure a scholarship for the 2017-18 school year, his goal is to play well enough to be offered a scholarship in the coming years.
“I heard a lot of people tell me that I can do a lot of big things at Valley City,” Maddox said. “I was o0ne of their last-minute recruits, I wasn’t offered a scholarship right away.
“They told me as long as I put in the work on the court, work off the court, he has money set aside for me for school and stuff for a scholarship next year. I’m going to head to Valley City and just grind, nobody is my friend in practice.”
McMillan said he knows Maddox will be able to do big things as long as he stays focused on his goals.
“He’s going to do big things, I can see him doing well,” McMillan said. “He’s going to have to take on more responsibility in terms of being a team leader and being that role model figure.”
Follow Richfield sports editor Chris Chesky on Twitter at @MNSunSports or @SunSportsChris and on Facebook at SunSportsStaff.