Austin Nichols surprisingly chooses Memphis over Tennessee

When Memphis beats out Tennessee for a high-level recruit, it’s not all that surprising. After all, the Tigers have been consistently better than the Volunteers over the past several years.

That wasn’t the case with Austin Nichols, a 6-foot-8 power forward from Briarcrest Christian (Tenn.). The Vols were considered the favorite in his recruitment, despite heavy interest from Memphis, Duke, Auburn, Virginia, Vanderbilt and others.

As a result, many people were genuinely surprised when Nichols announced via Twitter that he was going to play for Josh Pastner at Memphis.

“Austin called Josh this morning,” Mark Nichols, Austin’s father, told Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com. “He’s excited.”

Nichols has taken his time going through the recruiting process. He took all five of his official visits, plus unofficial trips to Memphis. Over the past week, Nichols had been quiet -- until emerging with his commitment to the Tigers.

“We gave him the week off [from calls and visits] and then had a ‘come to Jesus’ meeting yesterday,” Mark Nichols said. “We put together a 58-page report on all the schools and decided Memphis was the best place.”

Nichols is ranked as the No. 51 prospect in the country at CBSSports.com, with his stock rising during the spring and summer. He runs the floor well and has a decent face-up game, but is also effective with his back to the basket due to his length and ability to turn and score.

Pastner now has one of the top recruiting classes in the country, as Nichols joins Nick King (No. 23), Kuran Iverson (No. 24), Markel Crawford (No. 91) and Rashawn Powell (No. 96) in Memphis’ group. The Tigers are the only school in the country with five top-100 recruits at this point.  

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