San Jose State rounded out its 2017 recruiting class recently with the signing of do-it-all guard Isaiah Nichols of Avon Old Farms in Connecticut. Nichols is actually from Oxnard, California, but made the cross-country trip to the New England area for a year of prep school.
“It was to mature physically and mentally,” Nichols said of the prep year. “I felt like I needed another year. It helped a lot. I took the year to go to prep school to mature physically and mentally. I’m a better player, wiser in my decision making.”
There, Nichols was honored on the First-Team All-Tri-State League and was named a Co-MVP while his team won the Founder's League. Nichols averaged 15.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 4.7 assists. After the impressive season, he earned offers from San Jose State, Albany, Drexel and Cal State Bakersfield while also receiving interest from Colorado State, East Carolina, Northeastern and Utah State.
The opportunity to play for the Spartans stood out above the rest.
“The reason I chose San Jose State is because as soon as I visited, I felt a great vibe,” Nichols said. “Everybody was on the same page, everybody had a mission, everybody got along. We all wanted to send a message. It’s a rebuilding program and we want to be reborn. When I went there, the coaching staff was great, the players were great. They treated me well, I felt like a brother. That was a big part of my recruiting process, feeling comfortable. I’m going back home.”
On the court, Nichols had been developed as a point guard, but at his size he has expanded his game across the perimeter. At 6-foot-5 and 185 lbs, he would be an impressively sized point-man in the Mountain West, but he can play the shooting guard or small forward positions too.
“I can do a little bit of everything, but I would most describe myself as a playmaker,” Nichols said. “I always make the right play, that’s what Coach Wojcik loved about me was that I make the right play. I don’t force anything, I make the right play to the best of my abilities. Some call me a slasher, some call me a shooter. I’m working on extending my range from the 3-point arc. I’m getting stronger in the weight room. Whatever I can to improve my game, that’s whats I’m working on.”
So where will he wind up in the Spartans’ rotation? Well, the staff still isn’t totally sure, Nichols said - and the position he is labeled with isn’t of much concern to him either. He looks to be a guard that can fill in wherever he is needed in the lineup, with the ability to push the ball up the court and run the offense when the opportunity arises.
“We’re looking more at the guard position, but Wojcik hasn’t really listed a position for me,” Nichols said. “I look at it as, if you can play you can play - there’s no limitations to that. If there’s a great group of guys out there and we’re connecting well, no one really has a position. I could bring the ball up, I could play off the ball, I could spot up, come off the screen. That just goes to show. But if I’m grabbing that rebound I’m gone.”
Nichols’s versatility adds to the several returning freshman who can also play a variety of positions in forwards Cody Schwartz and Ryan Welage, as well as guards Jaycee Hillsman and Brandon Clarke.
In the classroom, Nichols is highly interested in forensics science and plans to major in the field.
“I give all the glory to God,” Nichols said of the entire recruitment process. “There’s no one that’s above him. That’s something important to me. All my praise goes to him and I couldn’t be anything without him.”
In a release by the university, San Jose State Head Coach Dave Wojcik said, "We are extremely happy to announce the addition of Isaiah Nichols to the Spartan family. He's going to come right in and give us depth and versatility at the guard position. He can score, rebound and distribute the ball at a high level.
"He's got a high motor, great work ethic and his leadership qualities are something that come naturally. Isaiah was his team's leader on and off the court during high school, and that continued during a highly successful year of prep basketball."
Nichols is the third men's basketball recruit to sign with the Spartans. He joins Keith Fisher and Nai Carlisle in the official 2016 recruiting class. Two additional players, Terrell Brown and E.J. Boyce, are expected to join the program as well as preferred walk-ons. InsideTheSpartans.com believes Nichols' signing to be the last available scholarship remaining in the class.
InsideTheSpartans.com subscribers can click here for an audio version of our interview with the newest Spartan.
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