Austin Nichols, the number 12 recruit in the nation according to ESPNU, has verbally committed to Memphis. Nichols adds to an already strong class put together by Josh Pastner. Also joining Nichols will be No. 28 recruit Kuran Iverson of Windsor, Conn., No. 30 Nick King of Memphis and No. 92 Rashawn Powell of Orlando, Fla. The Tigers also have a commitment from three-star shooting guard Markel Crawford of Memphis to round out a top-five recruiting class. Once again Pastner gets the best local player to stay close to home. In the past few years the Tigers have welcomed top Memphis area players Joe Jackson and Adonis Thomas as well.
Being close to home was undoubtedly a factor in Nichols decision. He had offers from many of the top schools in the nation and had reportedly trimmed his choices down to Duke, Virginia, Auburn, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Memphis. Being ranked the number 5 power forward in the nation means that Nichols would have made an impact at any one of those schools but ultimately made the decision to play in front of the home crowd as much as possible. Because he had made the decision to withdraw from the U-18 Olympic team that was traveling to Brazil this summer, many thought that Nichols would make the decision to stay close to home. However, because his twin sister is enrolled at Tennessee, the Vols were considered the front runners.
Surely being close to home will provide an added comfort zone for the young man, but it will also add additional pressures. Memphis will be moving from Conference USA to the BIG EAST in a year and Nichols will be expected to help his hometown team make the jump easily. Nichols brings a skill set that does not currently exist on the Tigers and will be looked at under a microscope every time he touches the floor. A risk/reward situation for a young player.