In one of the stranger transfer stories in recent memory, Austin Nichols just received permission to transfer anywhere after two seasons at Memphis. The versatile big man had threatened to bring the Tigers to court if his release wasn’t approved. Regardless, he’s now allowed to transfer anywhere, so why not Kentucky? There’s a guy on the Kentucky bench that left Memphis for Lexington and it seemed to work out okay.
Here’s a look at Nichols and what he can offer the Wildcats.
Year: Rising Junior, Eligible for 2016-17 season
Height/Weight: 6’9″, 228 pounds
Stats at Memphis: 26 minutes per game, 11.3 points per game, 5.2 rebounds per game, 2.3 blocks per game, 54% Field Goal Shooting
Coming out of high school he was a top-25 recruit according to 247Sports and decided to stay home and attend Memphis, choosing them over Virginia, Duke and Tennessee. During his freshman year he showed signs of being successful, but was limited playing just over 21 minutes per game. This last season however, Nichols blossomed into a special player. He became a dominant shot blocker, blocking nearly 3.5 shots per game for the Tigers and often guarded the best post player on the opposing team. Besides shot blocking the best part of his game is his ability to stay out of foul trouble, averaging less than two fouls per game while playing nearly 30 minutes. Offensively, he doesn’t have a ton of range, but is effective in the post, with a variety of moves to beat his defender. He can play either the four or five position in Calipari’s system, but is likely more suited to the traditional center spot due to his lack of outside shooting.
Other Schools Going After Him: Every single school in the country. But, Virginia, is the one to keep an eye on. Paul Tudor Jones II, the billionaire that founded Tudor Investments, donated $35 million to Virginia, his alma mater, to help with the construction of Virginia’s new basketball arena. The building, John Paul Jones Arena, is named after his father. Paul Tudor Jones II now lives in Memphis and is reportedly close with Nichols’ former AAU coach.