Morgantown, West Virginia – When Darris Nichols returned to the WVU Coliseum as an assistant coach for the Florida Gators, it was a really big deal for him.
“It means a lot,” he said. “Just for the simple fact that a lot of the people on the other side of the court, on the other bench, are people who have helped me get to where I am today. To me, that is a homecoming.”
Nichols, a former point guard for the Mountaineers from 2004-2008, averaged 10.7 points and 3.2 assists as a senior for a West Virginia team that went 26-11 in Bob Huggins’ first season in Morgantown.
Huggins remembers Nichols fondly. “He was a coach on the floor,” Huggins said of his former player. “Darris was like the quarterback on our team. He got the ball where it was supposed to go when it was supposed to get there and defensively he kinda help put guys where they were supposed to be.”
Nichols was an outstanding player, but he’s probably an even better coach.
“Well, I was honestly a little surprised he didn’t keep playing for a little longer. He came in and said he wanted to be a coach, and that’s the direction he wanted to go. He’s obviously done a great job with it,” Huggins said.
Nichols, a Radford, Virginia native, earned a spot in ESPN.com’s 40 Under 40 in the summer of 2020, rated #17 on the national list that included both head coaches and assistant coaches, according to the Florida basketball official website. He was also rated the #2 assistant coach in the SEC in a Stadium poll of coaches around the league.
Although West Virginians would love to have Bob Huggins roaming the sidelines for the Mountaineers forever, that simply cannot happen, and a post-Huggins plan needs to be in place for when he decides to retire.
Adding a young, energetic, up-and-coming assistant coach like Nichols to the West Virginia bench with the understanding that he’ll learn from Huggins and eventually take over for him makes perfect sense, and this is the absolute right time to do it.