Austin Nichols to visit UT this weekend

Austin  Nichols

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Austin Nichols

Austin Nichols is coming to Tennessee.

For the weekend, at least.

Trying to out-duel the likes of Memphis, Vanderbilt, Duke, Virginia and Auburn, Tennessee will lay out its sales pitch to the state’s most coveted basketball recruit today and Saturday.

Wholehearted hospitality is on the docket.

Nichols, a senior at Briarcrest Christian in Memphis, is ranked as the No. 26 prospect in the Class of 2013 by 247Sports. UT coach Cuonzo Martin has lassoed one five-star recruit this offseason in Robert Hubbs III, who joined last season’s five-star haul, Jarnell Stokes.

Now the Vols are dreaming of a third.

“We’re excited about the visit,” said Mark Nichols, Austin’s father. “It should be an awesome weekend.”

Austin Nichols will be accompanied by his father, mother and older sister on the Tennessee visit, according to the elder Nichols. Austin’s twin sister, Ashley Nichols, a freshman at UT, will meet the family in Knoxville.

The official visit will begin Friday morning, end Sunday morning, and can go no longer than 48 hours, per NCAA rules.

Having visited all other suitors, Nichols will take his final official visit to Auburn next week. Mark Nichols said his son hopes to announce his decision live on ESPNU in early November.

“I don’t know if we’re going to sign early yet, but we’re going to hopefully commit in three weeks, if possible,” he said Wednesday.

Named Division II Class AA Mr. Basketball in Tennessee for 2011-12, Nichols’ talent warrants his lofty billing. At 6-foot-9, he’s a true, athletic post player, but offers a growing array of perimeter skills, including a consistent, knockdown jump shot.

“He is one of the best I’ve ever seen in high school basketball, as far as offensive moves in the post,” said Briarcrest coach John Harrington. “He’s athletic, has great length, can handle (the ball) with his left and right hand, uses his body well in space down low and can score from either side of the hoop.”

Given his son’s budding all-around floor game, Mark Nichols is still trying to envision how he’d fit in Martin’s motion offense as an inside-out player. It will be a hump the UT coaching staff will need to hurdle this weekend.

“I don’t know if that would be a good fit for him, you know because Tennessee has a grind-out style type of play and I think a more open offense would be more conducive to Austin now,” Mark Nichols said.

“I’m not saying it wouldn’t work, but I’m saying I just think he would fit better other places. If he chooses Tennessee, I’ll be happy for him and we’ll go on with it. It’ll be up to Cuonzo to get the best out of him. Hopefully he’d have a system that works for him.”

Harrington, who runs a four-out, one-in motion offense at Briarcrest, said he thinks Nichols could work in Martin’s system. He described UT’s recruiting efforts as “very diligent” and said Martin has visited “numerous times, almost to the point where he’s a fixture here.”

“It’s hard to read Austin to begin with,” Harrington added. “I look at all the coaches that are recruiting him and there are some coaches that have different personalities and age differences, stuff like that. I think Coach Martin fits well with Austin.”

Nichols and Hubbs are AAU teammates for Tennessee-based M33M Elite. Hubbs’ father, Robert Hubbs Jr., is an assistant coach.

Additionally, Nichols is well familiar with Stokes, who was a high school star in Memphis.

Mark Nichols said those connections have been a major piece of UT’s pitch, but added, “I don’t know if that should play into the equation at all, but I’m not the one making this decision. It’s all about comfort.”

Last weekend saw the red carpet unfold for Austin Nichols at Memphis Madness. Fans chanted his name. Mark Nichols described the visit “good,” but quickly added, ‘He’s not into all that, really. He appreciated it, don’t get me wrong, it makes anybody feel honored or happy, but he’s not really into all the hoopla.”

Now it’s on to UT.

Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men’s basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/BFQuinn

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Comments » 28

kingofthevols writes:

Securing a commitment from Nichols doesn't sound as promising as I had thought based on what his Dad is quoted as saying. Vols will lose Maymon, Hall and likely Stokes after this season and desperately need to sign a skilled post player. Hope Cuonzo and staff can seal the deal this weekend!

snowpeapod#263184 writes:

Hey Tennessee fans, how does this sound? Let's get Austin to join his twin sister and Kaela Davis to join her twin brother A.J. next year in Big Orange Country.

clvolfan writes:

CMOOOON MAN,COACH CCM WILL MAKE YOU PROUD YOU DID.

scott_m99 writes:

Hope Austin makes the decision...instead of Austin's dad making the decision for him

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

His dad must be a wild turkey drinker..Just sayin'

rclarkvols#224537 writes:

If Austin doesn't want to play defense then his dad is right. But offensively he is way off base. Our offense looked grind it out because we didn't have many dependable scorers. With a player like Hubbs you can't double the post so Austin would thrive. Also you better check the Memphis roster, much better opportunity with the Vols

Snapshot writes:

His twin sister is already a freshman at UT? Guess maybe she graduated high school early, that just sounded a little strange.

VOLsince68 writes:

Well, if it's up to his dad, this will not happen. I agree with you King. This is not as promising as I had been reading.

GBO VFL!!!

VolsFanInNC writes:

in response to Snapshot:

His twin sister is already a freshman at UT? Guess maybe she graduated high school early, that just sounded a little strange.

Thought that sounded odd too.

LiveFaith writes:

in response to scott_m99:

Hope Austin makes the decision...instead of Austin's dad making the decision for him

What if Austin picks Duke and his dad picks TN? Definitely don't want a parent involved in a 17 year olds "long term" decision making skills now do we? Especially, when his parents will have to foot the bill for remaining expenses.

Bigger_Al writes:

"Austin Powers Vols Past Evil Kentucky"

Groovy, Baby, yeah! Unless Calipari sends World Wide Wes into the picture and offers, "One Million Dollars!"

SouthPaVol writes:

I like the fact that 5-star players from Memphis are looking at The Big Orange as a viable option. I like CCM and the personality our basketball program is taking on.

My left-handed comment: CCM talked the other day about dreaming big and setting goals higher than seems possible to reach. How about beat KY in Lexington, a final 4, and a NC?

ball1523 writes:

johnathan williams III committed to missouri so i hope we can get nichols locked up this weekend. Williams III wouldve been a nice back up plan but hes off the board now so we have to get nichols.

BRUCEpart2 writes:

Let me promise you, Austin will be making the decision. I'm a Knoxville transplant from Memphis and was best friends, having grown up only 2 doors down from his Dad Mark. The Nichols family are a wonderfully close knit group...They'll all have input and observations to offer Austin, but they love and respect him enough to respect his opinion no matter where he decides to go. I'm a "sold out" Tennessee fan and would love to see him come here to play...but Austins happiness and development, both as a player and as a wonderfully humble young man, is most important to me personally; although I have NO DOUBT whatsoever that CCM would be a great teacher and mentor for him. So lets all keep our fingers crossed for his future as a Vol, but don't forget that he's a young man that's worked very hard to be in the position to choose his own destiny...and regardless of his choice of schools, he's a wonderfully kind and thoughtful young man who will be a great asset to any community and University he may choose.

BRUCEpart2 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

His dad must be a wild turkey drinker..Just sayin'

His Dad & Mom are fine Christians who have raised smart and respectful children...Thank goodness they won't base their input to their Son on such a crass comment....I'll further say that it probably takes A Wild Turkey drinker to wrongly suspect another one...I'M just sayin'!

TNVol71 writes:

in response to BRUCEpart2:

Let me promise you, Austin will be making the decision. I'm a Knoxville transplant from Memphis and was best friends, having grown up only 2 doors down from his Dad Mark. The Nichols family are a wonderfully close knit group...They'll all have input and observations to offer Austin, but they love and respect him enough to respect his opinion no matter where he decides to go. I'm a "sold out" Tennessee fan and would love to see him come here to play...but Austins happiness and development, both as a player and as a wonderfully humble young man, is most important to me personally; although I have NO DOUBT whatsoever that CCM would be a great teacher and mentor for him. So lets all keep our fingers crossed for his future as a Vol, but don't forget that he's a young man that's worked very hard to be in the position to choose his own destiny...and regardless of his choice of schools, he's a wonderfully kind and thoughtful young man who will be a great asset to any community and University he may choose.

Thanks for the info. As a long time UT fan living in the Memphis area, it would be fantastic to have CCM reach into Memphis again to get another quality person and athlete. Hope he chooses the Vols. With the other recruits Coach Martin has coming in, Austin would fit right in to put UT in the class with KY.

GerryOP writes:

If 'Zo wants him, 'Zo'll get him.

TitanandVolfan4life writes:

CCM is following the CDD guide to try and get good players with quality character that will stay out of trouble and in school and on the team.

This kid is just that type of great young man and Tennessee would be a great choice for him.

CCM will make certain that he will use all the abilities this kid has and he'll grow and get better and better every year at Tennessee.

He'll be a perfect fit at Tennessee despite what his dad may think right now.

CCM knows how to get the best out of every player and mold them into a solid team.

VFL...GBO!!!

UTVolWarrior98 writes:

I wish his Father would keep his mouth shut!! lol Who in the hell is he to say "I dont think it would be a good fit for him"?? Dont discourage him Mark! lol Bring him to BIG ORANGE COUNTRY CUONZO..YOU CAN DO IT!!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Snapshot:

His twin sister is already a freshman at UT? Guess maybe she graduated high school early, that just sounded a little strange.

Depending on how late in the year his birthday is, he might have delayed entering school to give him a chance to match up physically and emotionally with others in his grade. Or maybe his sister skipped a grade at some point.

While Dad may seem a bit opinionated at this point, one can't really blame him for trying to negotiate the best possible situation for Austin. As long as he doesn't have his hand out, anyway. IMHO, it would be completely out of character for CCM to promise to redesign his system to fit Austin. Maybe Dad is testing him to see how far he can be pushed just to get an important recruit. If CCM plays this situation the way I think he will--"Austin will get a fair chance to play; we will help him become the best player and person he can be; he WILL go to class and do well; he WILL obey the same rules as everybody else; etc., etc."--then that may be just what Dad and Mom may want to hear. Goodness knows, there are plenty of coaches who would fall all over themselves to get a player like that. Unless I'm REALLY surprised, CCM "don't play that".

Ayres_Hall writes:

How is his twin not playing basketball somewhere?

BruisedOrange writes:

in response to BRUCEpart2:

Let me promise you, Austin will be making the decision. I'm a Knoxville transplant from Memphis and was best friends, having grown up only 2 doors down from his Dad Mark. The Nichols family are a wonderfully close knit group...They'll all have input and observations to offer Austin, but they love and respect him enough to respect his opinion no matter where he decides to go. I'm a "sold out" Tennessee fan and would love to see him come here to play...but Austins happiness and development, both as a player and as a wonderfully humble young man, is most important to me personally; although I have NO DOUBT whatsoever that CCM would be a great teacher and mentor for him. So lets all keep our fingers crossed for his future as a Vol, but don't forget that he's a young man that's worked very hard to be in the position to choose his own destiny...and regardless of his choice of schools, he's a wonderfully kind and thoughtful young man who will be a great asset to any community and University he may choose.

Thank you CuonzoFan for a true contribution. Comments like yours are why I come back to this site (and cull my way through all the now usual spew).

Like everything in life, what really counts, what really brings enjoyment in sports, are the people. I hope Austin comes to UT... but I pray he goes where the peace of God leads him.

(I know that sounds a bit squishy-mystical for a sports comment--but believers know what I mean.)

HooRay_Vol writes:

in response to ball1523:

johnathan williams III committed to missouri so i hope we can get nichols locked up this weekend. Williams III wouldve been a nice back up plan but hes off the board now so we have to get nichols.

This makes landing Nichols even more important. We needed one of these two guys in a big way. Hopefully Hubbs can help pull some strings as they were AAU teammates.

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

As a Vol fan living in Memphis I hate to hear things like I did last night. FWIW - Ausin's uncle says he would be surprised if he went anywhere other than Memphis - his mother is making a big push for him to stay there.

oldster writes:

The Vol fans need this kid to come here. With him, Stokes and the other 5 star, Cuonzo will only need a top notch point guard to compete with the Big Blue. They should have a leg up since he is from UT and his twin sister is already here. Go Cuonzo, please give us something to be proud of again.

alraguc#466367 writes:

If this kid wants to learn how to play defense, he should commit to Tennessee. It sounds like he is a skilled offensive player, but defensive skill is what will make him a more complete player.

CommodoreCapital writes:

Parents seem pretty smart..... No way they send their kid to Butt Chuggin U.

sly_stone99#434111 writes:

If he chose Duke I would not be surprised.

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