The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

May 28, 2010

Expect a few more assists from Nichols

If you listened closely during the 2009-10 basketball season, you came to realize just how special a player point guard Darris Nichols was during his playing days at WVU.

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said on more than one occasion that if his team had Nichols at the point, it would win the national championship.

And that was before March Madness, before the run to the Final Four.

That wasn’t a slam of point guards Darryl “Truck” Bryant or Joe Mazzulla. Maybe a motivator, but not a slam. It was more a compliment to what Nichols accomplished, which included scoring 993 career points and playing from a period that spanned stars Kevin Pittsnogle, Joe Alexander, Frank Young and Da’Sean Butler.

Nichols laughed at the thought.

“Coach said that to me quite a few times,” he said. “I told him maybe if it was two years ago, I could do it. Now, I guess I’m going to take up golf.”

Nichols was in Beckley last week as part of the Mountaineer Athletic Club golf outing at The Resort at Glade Springs.

He said it was his first time playing the game.

“I learned how to grip the golf club from (former teammate) Ted Talkington a couple of weeks ago,” Nichols, a lefty, said. “So if I play lousy, it’s his fault.”

Don’t look now, but Nichols is back. He joined Huggins’ staff as a graduate assistant coach in April and was able to attend the Final Four.

He, of course, was a player for Huggins’ first team that went to the Sweet 16 and also won an NIT title while at WVU under former coach John Beilein, who recruited him out of Radford (Va.) High.

In a way, Nichols was born to coach.

His father William, an All-America at Berea College, was also a coach in high school.

And his brother Shane is an assistant coach at Wofford.

“I always knew that I wanted to coach,” Nichols said. “I just didn’t think it would be this soon.”

After leaving WVU, Nichols played overseas. By all accounts he was doing well, until a knee injury sidelined, and eventually ended, his career.

So he came back to the states and ended up in Morgantown.

It turned out to be good timing. Kevin Schappell was in his final year as a GA at WVU.

“I talked to Huggs a lot, and he said he would give me a chance,” Nichols said. “I can’t think of a better coach to work for than coach Huggins. I learned a lot playing for him and now I am going to learn a lot about how to be a coach.”

A lot of Nichols’ job will be film work, breaking down game tape and opponent tape. As a player, he watched the finished product, a product he will now produce.

If it’s anything like his playing career, Huggins can expect a few more assists from Nichols in the next couple seasons.

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