For those of you who may not know, I don’t live in Maryland, but am original from the Old Line State. I currently live in Pennsylvania and was able to see Jared Nickens play for the second time in two weeks. It surely won’t be the last time that I get a glimpse at the future Maryland Terrapin. I was able to take in the Westtown School/Wilbraham & Monson Academy (MA) game at the Hoop Group Lehigh Valley Showcase on Sunday evening and was blown away once again.
As I stated in my first piece about Jared Nickens, the Westtown guard is one of the most versatile players around. It’s clear to see why the Maryland coaching staff made him a priority last summer.
Against one of the top prep school teams in the New England area, Nickens single-handily kept Westtown in the game and had himself quite the contest. The Maryland commit netted 24 points (7-of-15 shooting) and was sensational in every sense of the word.
Contrary to when I saw him in the Kobe Bryant Classic, Nickens really had his stroke working from the get-go on Sunday night. When the Westtown guard is on, there’s few players in the country that can hold a candle to his three-point shooting ability. Nickens is currently rated as the 106th best player in the country and the fourth best player in the state of Pennsylvania, according to 24/7 Sports.
Plain and simple, Nickens is a pure shooter and may be one of the most lethal to come to College Park in recent years. He’s a better long-range shooter than anyone currently on the Maryland roster. That is a pretty lofty claim but it makes sense if you think about it.
Guard/forward Jake Layman and forward Evan Smotrycz are the Terps best shooters right now with each of them shooting over 38 percent, but Nickens could be a more consistent long-range threat.. Nickens is capable of breaking the 40 percent barrier and he can do that with putting up a large amount of shots.
Nickens doesn’t get flustered. Whether there is a defender right in his face, the New Jersey native can still burn anybody from beyond the arc.
The Westtown guard is especially fond of launching long-range shots from the wing. Nickens connected on several shots from the wing and did so with being heavily guarded.
It’s pretty clear that Nickens is Westtown’s best perimeter threat and it’s something that he has to know. If you watch him play during the game, you can just tell that he realizes how capable he is of drilling any shot from the outside.
As impressive as Nickens is from the outside, he does have the ability to put it on the floor. On a few occasions against Wilbraham & Monson, the four-star recruit drove to the rim and was able to draw contact. This is extremely beneficial because Nickens is pretty solid from the charity stripe.
One aspect of his game that I wasn’t aware of was Nickens’ ability to guard the opposing team’s most talented offensive players. On Sunday, Nickens guarded highly-touted big man Goodluck Okonoboh in the low post. It was on several occassions and Nickens held his ground in every showdown. Each time, Okonoboh caught the ball and ended up passing it back out to the perimeter because of Nickens’ stout defense. Standing at 6’6, he is able to use his length to his advantage on both ends of the floor. It’s one of the most overlooked parts of his game, but one that I came away extremely impressed with.
All in all, I just came away extremely impressed with Nickens the two times that I saw him play. The Westtown guard is a much more versatile player than I had originally thought. Nickens has several different dimensions to his game and could produce right away once he arrives in College Park.