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Insider

Nichols keeps working to get better

5/7/2012

We have all heard the old adage in both business and sports that “if you are not working hard to improve, your competition will pass you by.” The theory is that as a player you are either working hard to get better, not working and getting worse or doing the minimum and staying the same. In Austin Nichols’ case, he obviously subscribes to the working harder mentality.

Nichols has been a talented commodity for quite a while. College coaches from the ACC, SEC, Big East and Big 12 have already made the 2013 recruit from Briarcrest Christian in Memphis, Tenn., a priority recruit, but Nichols’ continued development should also see him steadily move up the rankings.

He seems hungry to prove himself as one of the top players in the class each time he takes the floor, whether it be in an empty gym or a packed event. Players like Nichols who continue to evolve their game, have a good work ethic and a high basketball IQ are more rare than most people realize and are the type of players that not only keep getting better, but they help college coaches win a bunch of games in the process. It’s no wonder that he has generated a buzz among the college coaches that were able to be in attendance during the last two weekends of April.

I got the chance to catch Nichols in action at the Real Deal in the Rock and came away very impressed with his ability to impact a game and make the players around him better. His skill level as a power forward reminds me a lot of Kentucky’s Kyle Wiltjer because he is able to play facing the basket while also going to work in the paint with a variety of Kevin McHale-like moves.

His M33M Elite coach Ernie Kuyper has watched Nichols’ development first hand and believes that by the end of the summer evaluation period, the 6-foot-9 power forward will get the recognition that his hard work deserves.

“When you factor everything into it ... his athleticism, his skill level, his off-the-charts basketball IQ, his work ethic, and his family … Austin Nichols is the number one player at his position in the country” Kuyper said. “I may be biased, but I haven’t seen another player that delivers what he brings to the table.”

The fact that Nichols gets better each time we see him play is a good sign that he is not a finished product and a big factor in why he should continue to pass other players by on his way up the recruiting rankings.