The summer evaluation period has been a friendly one for power forward Austin Nichols. The prospect out of Briarcrest High School in Eads, TN catapulted himself from No. 30 to No.10 in the latest 2013 ESPN 100. He added another star to his ranking, too.
Today, Evan Daniels of Scout.com (subscription required) broke the story on Nichols' list of prospective programs. Making the cut was Memphis, Tennessee, Auburn, Vanderbilt, Virginia and Duke.
However, his decision to withdraw from the USA Basketball U18 team due to homesickness begs the question, "Can Nichols succeed outside of his comfort zone of Tennessee?"
While it may seem I am picking on the young star, it's a valid question. Nobody wants to pick up a recruit for a year and have him transfer because he is homesick. And I'm sure he would also hate to lose a year of eligibility over it.
“Of course staying close to my family,” Nichols said in a previous interview with Inside Carolina's Alex Schwartz (subscription required). “They’re there when I need somebody to talk to; I can go talk to them. If I decide to stay close to home I could talk to them pretty much every day.”
Also to be considered is the fact his twin sister will be a freshman at Tennessee this year, while his older sister graduated from Memphis. Both schools, of course, are on his list.
In my mind, the hometown favorites will remain at the top of his list. But he did have some intriguing thoughts about the other programs, too. Particularly Duke.
According to Evan Daniels' piece, Austin Nichols broke down his interest for each school as follows:
Austin Nichols Highlights
Memphis: “I’m a hometown kid. I’m definitely interested in Memphis with the way they play their players. I took an unofficial about a week or so ago and I didn’t expect the campus to be so nice. I just think I’d fit in perfectly there.”
Tennessee: “I picked Tennessee on this list. I went up there for a few unofficial football games and the fans were great. The fan support was there. The coaching staff is great.”
Vanderbilt: “I picked Vandy. It’s a great academic school. They are in the SEC and it’s great competition. They are also only three hours away from home, so that’s always good.”
Virginia: “Then I also picked Virginia. I’ve always liked Virginia. Coach Bennett is a great man. I would love to play under him.”
Auburn: “Then I guess Auburn. They are pretty close to home at four and a half maybe five hours. They are in the SEC and I think I’d fit in great there.”
Duke: “Then of course Duke. You pretty much can’t say much about Duke. With Coach K and everything, he’s a legend and I’d love to play for him. I think I’d fit in great. I’d get there and fit right now.”
It shouldn't go unnoticed that he mentioned how close Vanderbilt and Auburn were to home. Again, that appears to be the primary concern for Austin Nichols moving forward.
Homesickness aside, don't overlook the talent of one Austin Nichols. He didn't jump 20 spots in the ESPN 100 for nothing. Focusing on his mid-range jumper and post moves, he made tremendous strides in those areas during the summer months.
What seems to have stood out the most about the 6'9" power forward has been his ability to run, with many comparing his abilities to that of Tyler and Cody Zeller. That's not bad company.
While it remains unclear as to where Austin Nichols will land in 2013, there is no questioning the potential of the latest 5-star recruit. He will be a star on the collegiate hardwood. But where will he star?
My money is on the state of Tennessee.