Huggins high on UF assistant Nichols


An interesting side-note in Saturday’s Florida-West Virginia, SEC-Big 12 Challenge game at the O’Connell Center is Florida assistant coach Darris Nichols facing his alma mater.

Nichols was a four-year point guard at West Virginia who was recruited by John Beilein and played under both Beilein and current West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. After playing a year of pro basketball overseas, Nichols returned to West Virginia for a year to work under Huggins as a graduate assistant coach.

“Darris had a great understanding of how to play when he was a player,” Huggins said. “Everybody had different aptitudes and everybody maybe thinks they can learn basketball, but if you don’t have the aptitude to understand it, you’re not going to be near as good.

“Darris has got a great aptitude. He was very, very good at playing the way John (Beilien) had him playing before I got here and picked up what we wanted to do very quickly.”

In addition, first-year Florida coach Mike White is a branch of the Huggins coaching tree. White was an assistant under Andy Kennedy at Ole Miss, and before taking over at Ole Miss, Kennedy was an assistant under Huggins at Cincinnati.

Huggins said he’s followed White’s coaching career and recalled him as a player at Ole Miss when the Rebels and Cincinnati were at the same NCAA Tournament site in the late 1990s.

“I enjoyed watching him play when he was player,” Huggins said. “We were in the same bracket, the same site, in the NCAA Tournament and I really enjoyed watching him.”

Other notes:

— Credit reader Jason Kessler for pointing out UF starting center John Egbunu’s home and road splits. Egbunu is averaging 13.1 points and 7.9 rebounds at home, compared to 6.6 points and 5 rebounds on the road. The big reason for the dropoff in production? Foul trouble. Egbunu is averaging 4.3 fouls on the road, compared to 3.3 fouls at home. Egbunu has fouled out of three road games (Michigan State, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt) and one home game (Florida State) this season. The Gators are 0-4 when the 6-foot-11 Egbunu fouls out.

—’s national recruiting analyst Evan Daniels put together a good breakdown of UF 2016 signees Eric Hester (6-3, g, Oldsmar Christian) and Dontay Bassett (6-8, f, Oldsmar Christian). Daniels praises Hester’s defensive ability and Bassett’s mobility as a power forward prospect.

–Forward Justin Leon remains day-to-day with a head injury and will be a game-time decision for Saturday against West Virginia.