For the first time since starting coaching, former WVU basketball player Darris Nichols will return to the WVU Coliseum to coach against his former coach, Bob Huggins.
Nichols played for West Virginia from 2004-08 under John Beilein for his first three seasons, and coach Huggins for his senior campaign.
The Virginia native remembers the first time he met Huggs after the coaching change.
“The first time we met him, it was crazy because going through the coaching change, it was a two week period,” Nichols said. “Once they named him (Huggins) the head coach, I think he was there pretty much the next day or the same way and he’s walking into town.”
Nichols and the rest of the remaining WVU players were thinking about the connections that Huggins had at Cincinnati. More specifically, they were excited about the brand that Huggins that been associated with-in the 90s and 00s.
“As a player, all we’re thinking about is, ‘Are we going to go and play with Jordan. Are we going to switch over to Jumpman?’,” Nichols joked.
The former Mountaineer remembers the first meeting with Huggs and what he told them that confused them.
“I want to say our first meeting was something along the lines of, ‘I’m just going to give you a rule. I’ve always stuck by this: if you want to stick around here, you’ve gotta be good at something.’ We didn’t really understand what he was (Huggins) talking about when he was talking about it at first,” Nichols explained.
“But he was talking about either academics or basketball. You better be good to stick around,” Nichols added.
Nichols ended up averaging 10.7 points-per-game on 44% shooting from the field. The guard shot the three-ball well, shooting 38% his senior year from downtown.
Nichols help lead the Mountaineers to a Sweet 16 appearance, defeating Arizona and Duke, before losing to Xavier.
Coach Huggins remembers the type of player Nichols was.
“During the quarantine, I went back and looked at the NCAA Tournament, when we played Arizona, Duke and Xavier, which Darris (Nichols) was our point guard for those games,” Huggins said.
“He (Nichols) ran the show. He did a great job at running the show,” Huggins added.
The future hall of fame coach saw coaching in Nichols’ future.
“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, that’s the direction he wanted to go. He’s obviously done a great job with it,” Huggins said.
Huggins had to throw in a little jab at his opposing coach on Saturday.
“He had a really ugly looking jump shot, but for some reason that went in, but it was ugly,” Huggins joked.
Nichols will be returning to Morgantown for the first time since 2017 for an alumni game.
On Saturday afternoon, it will be teacher versus protégé, as Nichols and Huggins will be on opposite sides of the court. West Virginia and Florida will tip-off at 2 p.m. at the WVU Coliseum. Coverage will be on ESPN.