Jared Nickens may be a very good dancer, but it’s his shooting ability that most see as his strongest asset.
Maryland’s sophomore shooting guard is about to enter his junior year as one of very few experienced members of the Terrapins’ basketball team, and, as more people learn his name through his dancing adventures on the internet, he’ll need to carry a lot of weight come the start of next season.
The native of Monmouth Junction, New Jersey was a respected recruit, rated with three stars by Rivals.com, and he didn’t come into College Park with much fanfare due to the cult hero status of Dez Wells and then incoming five star Melo Trimble.
However, coming off the bench primarily as a three-point shooter, Nickens impressed as a freshman in 2014-15, playing a shade under 20 minutes a game and averaging over six points on 39 percent from long range.
Things changed come this past season. Nickens was guaranteed as Mark Turgeon’s backup shooting guard/small forward after a season-ending injury to Dion Wiley, sitting only behind Rasheed Sulaimon. Despite the appearance of an increased role, Nickens saw almost the same amount of minutes and averaged 5.4 points per game on 34.7 percent shooting from long range, while his field goal percentage dropped from 37 to 36 percent.
The poor showing from Nickens was overshadowed by one of the most exciting seasons in College Park’s history, with Maryland ranked in the preseason top three. The excitement lasted throughout the year, even with a turbulent finish to the season and a tournament exit in the sweet sixteen. Still, looking toward next season, the lanky 6’7″ guard has a chance to make up for his poor play.
The departure of Maryland’s entire starting five leaves Turgeon and the Terrapins in a lot of trouble. With only Trimble eligible to come back because he didn’t hire an agent for the NBA Draft, the Terps have to replace Diamond Stone, Robert Carter Jr., Jake Layman and Sulaimon at the very least.
This leaves Nickens with an opportunity to stake his claim on the shooting guard position, but he’ll need to produce a lot more. The Terps are bringing in four star shooting guard Kevin Huerter, whose style of play is very similar to Nickens. If Huerter impresses early on, there is no reason to believe that he won’t be chosen over the junior-to-be.
Nickens has enjoyed a nice offseason thus far, becoming an internet star and all. His Instagram page has several videos of he, Jaylen Brantley and others dancing, and just Tuesday they appeared on Ellen (which you can see here). While that’s all well and good, Maryland fans will be hoping for a lot more next season out of a player with a lot of potential.