It was a dark and stormy night.
Ok, no it wasn't. It was July 7th.
Wow. Huge news. https://t.co/D6bXpElFlW— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) July 7, 2015
Memphis forward Austin Nichols, a power forward out of Briarcrest Christian (TN), surprised everyone with his request to transfer in late June. The junior, a consensus five star on 247Sports, averaged 13.3 points and 6.1 rebounds last season with the Tigers before an ankle injury ended his season in February.
Questions arose whether Memphis would release Nichols, and if there would be any restrictions on his transfer.
Gotta wonder if Memphis will release Austin Nichols -- given the fact that it's now July 7th. I'm not sure I would.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) July 7, 2015
According to multiple sources, Memphis does not intend to release Austin Nichols.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) July 7, 2015
Initial reports released by Memphis said that Nichols missed a team workout, and they planned on handling the matter internally. Two days later, July 9th, head coach Josh Pastner and Memphis University granted Nichols a conditional release.
Tom Bowen: "I spoke with Austin Nichols this morning and informed him the U of M will grant to him a conditional release from his NLI."— L. Jason Smith (@TheCAJasonSmith) July 9, 2015
Those conditions included preventing Nichols's transfer to any other American Athletic Conference, any school on their 2015-2016 non-conference schedule, and any already scheduled 2016-2017 opponent. Oh, and Tennessee, because...well Tennessee. Virginia, along with Iowa and Providence, are projected to play in the 2016 Emerald Coast Classic with Memphis, although there is no guarantee the Cavaliers and Tigers will face off.
This left the field seemingly open for schools like Notre Dame, Kentucky, and Duke to swoop in and steal Nichols, which benefits no one.
Nichols wasn't done fighting, however.
Austin Nichols’ family hired lawyer Don Jackson - in hopes of getting an unconditional release. Virginia school Nichols wants to look at.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) July 14, 2015
Tony Bennett and the Cavaliers were close to landing Nichols coming out of high school, and he has a surprising connection to Virginia through his old summer coach who is a friend of the Jones family... as in John Paul Jones.
Don Jackson wasted no time.
Austin Nichols’ lawyer Don Jackson to ESPN: "There’s a very realistic possibility this winds up in federal court."— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) July 14, 2015
That was at 2:58 pm on the 14th. By 3:27, Jackson had upped the ante.
"Further, the restrictions are nothing more than a calculated effort to punish Austin’s family for his desire to transfer to a new program. Although the staff has attempted to imply ‘tampering,’ the broad nature of the restrictions clearly establishes that ‘tampering’ is not an issue; this is a calculated effort by a dysfunctional staff to punish a player for taking a step to remove himself from a failing program."
At 6:40, Nichols was free.
Memphis has removed all conditions from Austin Nichols’ transfer.— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) July 14, 2015
Jackson, by the way, is a Virginia Law alumnus.
While Nichols has not announced his destination, Virginia is considered the favorite. If Nichols comes to Charlottesville, he would have to red shirt for the 2015-2016 season.