Hubbs in, Nichols coming too?

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Now that five-star wing Robert Hubbs of Dyer County High has committed to play college basketball for Tennessee, his next order of business is to convince a good friend to join him on The Hill.

That would be Memphis Briarcrest standout Austin Nichols, who played alongside Hubbs with the M33M traveling team last summer. Nichols is a 6-foot-9 forward who is rated a four-star recruit. Hubbs will be lobbying him on the Vols' behalf between now and the November signing period.

"Yes, sir," Hubbs told InsideTennessee by phone. "I plan on talking to him pretty soon."

If Hubbs proves to be as effective as a basketball recruiter as he is as a basketball player, Nichols should be joining him in the Big Orange fold before long. That's because Hubbs is an outstanding player. Rated the No. 3 shooting guard in America by FoxSportsNEXT, the 6-foot-4 standout says he averaged "right at 20 points and around 6 rebounds" per game as a junior last season.

It was Hubbs' impressive play on the summer circuit that elevated him from quality prospect to elite status, however. Listed No. 77 nationally among recruits last spring, he soared to No. 19 in the most recent FoxSportsNEXT rankings.

Hubbs is the second five-star prospect to pick Tennessee in the past 10 months. Jarnell Stokes picked the Vols last December after graduating at mid-term from Memphis Southwind High School.

Stokes and Hubbs may be the start of a West Tennessee pipeline to Knoxville. Vol head man Cuonzo Martin also is in hot pursuit of Southwind's Johnathan Williams III and the afore-mentioned Nichols. Williams is FoxSportsNEXT's No. 8 power forward prospect and Nichols is tabbed No. 14 at the same position.

Austin Nichols has been to Knoxville several times and the Vols are high on the four-star's board.
(Danny Parker/InsideTennessee.com)
Although he has good range on his jump shot, Hubbs is at his best when he's slashing to the basket.

"I like to make plays, penetrate, attack the basket, get my teammates involved and score the ball," he said.

Now that he has cast his lot with the Vols, Hubbs is relieved to have the stress of the recruiting process behind him.

"It really takes a lot of pressure off of me," he said, "so I can enjoy my senior season."

Although hotly pursued by such hoops heavyweights as Duke and Kentucky, Hubbs was so blown away by his visit to Tennessee last Saturday that he canceled his other visits and committed to the Vols.

"The highlight was the (Tennessee-Florida) football game," he said of his Knoxville tour. "It was a great atmosphere out there on Saturday night. And being around the guys (players), they made me feel comfortable."

Tennessee's staff had the same effect on him.

"Tennessee's a great school, and the coaching staff really made me feel at home," Hubbs said. "I had a good time, and they made me feel at home."

Ultimately, the winning edge for Tennessee was head coach Cuonzo Martin. His earnest, low-key approach impressed Hubbs and his father, who accompanied him on the Vol visit.

"He's a great man," Hubbs said of Martin. "I think he's going to put me in a good position to do what I have to do to get where I want to go."


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