It wasn't long ago when RivalsHoops.com watched Demetris Nichols up in Massachusetts at a prep tournament. During this tournament, Nichols struggled with his shot. He still though provided a great impact in the game. Nichols pulled down several rebounds and scored close to 20 points on twisting drives, putbacks, and baseline moves.
"Demetris does the little things that coaches love," said St. Andrew's head coach Mike Hart. "He plays defense hard. He tries to make the other players better on the court."
Hart has noticed the dramatic improvement in Nichols shot though. "Demetris is a streaky shooter but he is also young," Nichols said. "He is going to be a great player for Syracuse."
Nichols made his commitment to the Orangemen yesterday afternoon. "He had some great schools after him," Hart said. "Providence and Villanova also did a great job in recruiting him. But he wanted to go to Syracuse for a long time."
Hart said most fans don't realize the behind the scenes effort that Nichols makes. "People in the stands only see him shoot the jumper or score a basket," Hart said. "But Demetrius is to practice early and the last one to leave. When he and Abdi (Lidonde) work out before practice they aren't shooting around. What they are doing are drills. They are working on drills that will make themselves better basketball players. How many players do you see players do that with some of their free time?"
Not many. But Nichols is special. At 6-7, he has those long arms. Many will make the comparisions to Preston Shumpert. In fact, Nichols has mentioned that the success Shumpert had at Syracuse influenced him with his decision to verbal to the Orangemen. "I think Demetris does a lot of different things well," Hart said. "He is a tremendous kid. He is a hard worker. He is only going to get better. I can't wait to get him back for this winter. All the reports I get is that he is shooting the ball much better now."
True. Nichols was a streaky shooter last season for St. Andrew's. But his confidence and ability to knock down the jumper while playing for the T5T Playaz so far this spring has been very impressive. "When Demetris isn't scoring, he is doing other things on the court," Hart said. "He always gets his hands on the ball. He is constantly deflecting passes by the other team. He can tip the ball to himself and get a putback basket. He plays defense so well."
Hart said Nichols is going to have to strengthen his frame. "He is alway working on that," Hart said. "What Syracuse is getting is a gym rat. I have no doubt that by the time Demetris is about 20-21 years old, he is going to be a great player at Syracuse. By the time he is a junior at Syracuse, he is going to be unbelievable. He is going to be double the player at Syracuse that he has been here. I really believe that."