He just wanted his team to get the win, with or without him on the floor. And win the Saints did — with Nichols playing a very large part, at that. The Saints held off Arkansas commit Anthlon Bell and the Panthers, 70-60, for the first time in Nichols' career.
"It was special," Nichols said. "I really wasn't worried about scoring the ball or anything, I just wanted to get a win. I told Demarc (Richardson) while I was on the bench, ‘I don't care if I get in anymore, I just want to get this W.' And we pulled it out, so it feels good."
Nichols scored 18 points and pulled down six rebounds. One game after recording nine blocks in a blowout win against Covington, he had a fine follow-up performance with eight blocks against Bartlett.
His timing seemed to be perfect on every shot he contested, which is something Nichols said he worked on throughout the summer.
"It paid off for the night," he said. "I'm happy."
The 6-foot-8 Nichols also has added 10-15 pounds to his frame, and he said he can feel the difference every time he takes the floor.
"Before, I couldn't rip the ball or take the ball from somebody," he said. "Now, I can pretty much rip it whenever I want to. … I can just feel that I'm stronger."
Nichols, who is the best college prospect for the Saints, said he isn't as worried about his individual performances so much as how his team fares.
"I'm just trying to win. I'm not focused on points or blocks or anything, I just want to get a ‘W' and get to state," Nichols said. "I'm just a floor-runner. That's what I do best, and I'm gonna keep doing it."
Nichols is being recruited by programs like Memphis, Tennessee, Florida, Florida State, Duke, Clemson and many others. He said he spoke with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski recently and that Clemson called Monday night.
He caught the Tigers and Volunteers Maui matchup on television Tuesday afternoon and said he came away impressed by both teams.
"(Memphis) is young, but they're really talented," Nichols said. "You can't take anybody for granted, because Tennessee has a great ball club too. It was a great game."