Column: What to expect from Austin Nichols


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The University of Memphis Basketball team, in many people’s eyes, are going to have to live up to big expectations going into this season. As for the freshmen, hopefully the pressure will not hit them as they face competitive ball clubs early in the season. One of the freshmen, Austin Nichols is still adjusting to college basketball and he sees that it is totally different from high school basketball.

Nichols will be wearing jersey No. 4 as former Tiger Adonis Thomas wore during his two years at Memphis. The both of them were big-time prospects coming out of high school. They were also targets for Memphis to nail. Unfortunately, things didn’t workout for Thomas as he went undrafted in last June’s NBA Draft. Nichols seems to not be thinking about it so much.

“I’m not expecting on leaving after my second year. But you never know what happens. I’m just here to do my part,” said Nichols. “It should be a lesson for everyone — all basketball players. You just gotta wait until you’re completely ready. If you go early, you see what Adonis did. You just gotta feel it out, I guess.”

Nichols is probably the most talented power forward Memphis will have on their roster this season. As a senior at Briarcrest, he averaged 22.7 points, 12.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks.

Can he repeat the success from high school?

Nichols is not a physical big man. He plays like Paul Gasol. He’s not going to grind it out in the paint, but instead he will beat you with his skill set. He can outrun and out smart any big man if he wants to. Just ask freshman Dominic Woodson. When he’s guarding Woodson, he simply can’t move him because he’s not strong enough. When their bodies collide, Nichols moves out of the way and forces Woodson to lose control of the ball.

Nichols is a slim guy standing at 6-8 and weighing 225 pounds. Thus far, he has put on 12 pounds so he can hold his own in the paint with David Pellom and Woodson.

Nichols is okay with the competition while he talked about adapting to the college atmosphere.

“It’s not really an issue, but can definitely notice it for sure, coming from high school,” he said. “It’s getting, not easier — every practice seems like it gets harder and harder — but I’m adapting to it pretty well.”

His teammate, Woodson, gives Nichols his props on how well he has performed in practice. The Tigers officially begin practice on Thursday.

“Austin’s very, very skilled. He’s skilled on the block with both his left and right hand,” said Woodson.

Nichols shouldn’t have a problem in his freshman season. If I was him, I wouldn’t think about what others are going to say. The only thing he has to do is go out there and play basketball like he’s been playing since his high school years.

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