Santa Barbara City College men’s basketball player leads a versatile

Dan Nelson

If you took Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin and taught him a few guitar chords and how to perform pirouettes you would come out with an accurate model of Richard Somdah.

The sophomore forward has been a bright spot for the City College men’s basketball team in an otherwise mediocre season at 7-16 and 3-5 in the conference.

Head coach Morris Hodges described Somdah as a player who “has a lot of dimensions to his game.” His versatility carries over into reality.

The 23-year-old plans on receiving his bachelor’s degree in creative writing.

“He is very well respected and very well liked by his teammates, his peers and a lot of his teachers,” said assistant coach Randy Moharram. “I’ve heard nothing but good things about him. He’s just a good guy to be around.”

But a smooth jump shot is not the only skill of the 6’3″ Texas native.

Somdah is currently enrolled in a guitar and ballet class. He is also quite the sensitive soul.

“I watched the Notebook recently and I really liked it,” Somdah said. “It was just on the TV late at night and I couldn’t sleep. I got up to get something to eat and I ended up watching the beginning and three hours later I’m just ready to start clapping and stuff.”

Before coming to City College, Somdah came from Spring High School in Houston, Texas where he played basketball for two years.

After high school, Somdah got the opportunity to play basketball with a traveling team and a friend on the team, Kevin, suggested coming out to California.

Somdah traveled to California with the intentions of attending Pierce College in Los Angeles with Kevin.

“They have wine tasting out here [Santa Barbara] and his [Kevin’s] mom and his sister were coming out here to go wine tasting and I was just along for the ride because I didn’t have anything to do,” Somdah said.

He emailed the head coach after seeing campus and getting information on the team.

“It was so last minute and spur of the moment,” Somdah said.

“I actually had applied to both schools and went to the first day at each. Then at the last minute I decided to come here and he ended up staying at Pierce,” said Somdah. “I don’t know, I just had a bunch of plans, but you know sometimes stuff just ends up working out in a weird way.”

Somdah is also a personal assistant at the nonprofit behavioral health organization Devereux at UCSB.

Moharram said Somdah reminds him of Derek Fisher because of his presence and leadership ability. His teammate offers a different perspective.

“Blake Griffin because he’s that powerful as a leaper,” said freshman guard Malik Bradley. “Yeah, he’s got power. He’s really explosive.”

With the way the playoffs are setup, Somdah feels like the Vaqueros have a shot at a deep playoff run. If they can do well within the conference then they can virtually wipe away their overall record. That’s a scary thought for the rest of the state with Somdah leading the charge.