At the time, the 6-foot-9, 205-pound junior was already in high demand, with offers on the table from top-shelf schools and programs such as Vanderbilt, Florida, Tennessee and Virginia. But Briarcrest head coach John Harrington had a feeling it wouldn't be long until the blue-bloods of the sport came calling as well.
He was right. Following a standout performance from Nichols and his M33M Elite squad at "Real Deal in the Rock" in Little Rock, Ark. last month, the phone started ringing still more frequently with programs such as Duke, Kansas and North Carolina on the line.
"When he came back they started calling and started offering," Harrington said. "So I think he has to re-process this all. The ones who were on this list before were good schools - Vanderbilt, Florida, Tennessee and Virginia (etc.). But now the list has gotten larger."
The Jayhawks stepped up with a scholarship offer last week, and Harrington believes Kansas is a program at which Nichols will take a long look.
"I think that's going to be a program he'll look at simply because of the past history," he said. "Not just because of the program, but the players that come out and the system that they run."
Named Mr. Basketball in Tennessee for Class 2-AA, Nichols is coming off a monster junior campaign in which he helped lead Briarcrest to the state championship game.
After an outstanding sophomore campaign, things fell into place for the three-year starter in 2012.
"About halfway through the season that light sort of clicked on and he was really dominating down the stretch," Harrington said. "He had 26 points in the semis and 30 in the finals, so he was pretty dominant."
When asked to describe Nichols' game, Harrington said his ability to run the floor and athleticism stood out. In college, he noted, it's likely he'll play facing the basket more than on the low block because of his slender build.
"He's great with the pick and roll," Harrington explained. "He's got great hands, catches the ball in traffic and finishes great."