Class of 2013 power forward Austin Nichols was born and raised in Memphis and plays both his high school and AAU basketball in the largest city in Tennessee, but those aren’t his only ties to Memphis. Both his mother and his sister attended the University of Memphis, something that’s sure to impact his recruitment. The 6’8, 205-pound Briarcrest High School (Tennessee) rising senior averaged a double-double of 22 points and ten rebounds a game last season in addition to four blocks a contest. Nichols broke the shot-blocking record at his high school his freshman year and lists offers from Missouri, Virginia, Duke, North Carolina, Florida, Kansas, Ohio State and Memphis, among others.
Nichols took the time to talk about his recruitment to Duke Report yesterday afternoon and discussed the latest news. Having already taken an unofficial visit to Tennessee, Nichols says he hopes to visit Missouri, Florida, Virginia, Duke and North Carolina but has no timetable for those trips. He names Duke, Tennessee, Memphis, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina and Missouri as the programs coming after him the hardest and says he has built the best relationships with the coaching staffs at Florida, Tennessee, Missouri and Virginia. One surprising tidbit he revealed was that he grew up more of a Memphis fan that a Duke fan, something that may surprise Blue Devil fans since some thought he was a Duke lean because he has said that he liked Duke growing up.
However, the most important thing Nichols told Duke Report was the fact that he plans on cutting his list down to six programs “within weeks.” He even named some schools likely to make that list: “Missouri, Virginia, Florida and probably Tennessee.” In my best estimation, I would predict that Memphis is the fifth school to make his list of six with either Duke or North Carolina rounding out his top six. There’s really no guarantee, however, of who will make that list of six outside the four schools he named. He could even narrow his list down to four or five or keep seven or eight schools in the mix. Nichols has absolutely no timetable for a commitment but it’s looking a lot more likely that he’ll make a spring decision rather than a fall one.
Nichols is a guy who has seen his stock rapidly increase over the past few months. He’s a terrific shot-blocker who runs the court very well and is effective rim to rim. He’s versatile on the offensive end since he can step out and hit the 12-foot jumper or score with his back to the basket. However, one of my favorite things about watching him play is how fundamentally sound he is, particularly compared to the typical high school big man that is a major presence on the defensive end. Nichols is a guy with a good work ethic that is able to pass the ball out of the post and keep the ball up high. He displays good footwork too. However, he needs to improve his strength, something that could really help his game.