TSMD got a chance to check out Jared Nickens, Maryland’s wing commit from the 2014 class, at the Capitol Classic over the weekend. Nickens, a Pennsylvania native, was asked to participate along with three other members of the Terps 2014 class (Melo Trimble, Dion Wiley, and Trayvon Reed), but was only one of two participating after Wiley was absent and Reed was injured.
Nickens finished the game with 13 points and a few rebounds, but overall impressed. There’s no better time than now for TSMD to give you fans an idea of what to expect out of Nickens when he gets to College Park in June.
Strengths: Shooting, Height, Length
Everyone and their mother knows that Nickens was brought into Maryland for his shooting ability, but I’m not sure everyone realizes just how good that is (I could talk about it for days). Nickens is a more natural shooter than both Melo Trimble and Dion Wiley, who are far from slouches in their own regard. Nickens has a picture perfect, lightning quick release on his jumper that reminds me a lot of his fellow 2014 recruit D’Angelo Russell’s shot. If you’re not right up underneath Nickens, he’s going to burn you time after time with a jump shot that can go in from about anywhere. In that regard, the coaching staff will never have to teach Nickens how to shoot the ball.
Nickens might not be the playmaker Dion Wiley is, but he’s a more pure shooter with a cocksure attitude that he’s going to knock it down every time from anywhere. I’m not sure Nickens has ever met a corner three he didn’t like. While he didn’t play as much as some of the other players on his team over the weekend, he was one of the the most effective players on the floor. His 13 point came on about seven or eight shots; he only missed a couple jumpers, and not by much. Nickens game has such an old school, smooth feel to it that it’s hard not to like. He takes what the defense gives him, and doesn’t force things.
Nickens is also every bit of 6’6, and has long arms that suit him well on the basketball court. He is certainly a tad on the skinny side, but at no point does it feel inhibiting to his game. His length allows him to let floaters in traffic go without worrying about them being sent back, but it also helps him on the defensive end. Nickens isn’t a stellar defender, but one can easily see him stealing a lot of balls because of his opportunistic approach; his long arms are always in passing lanes.
But Nickens strength is that you can watch an entire game go by without realizing he has scored a lot of points on you. He’s not as in-your-face aggressive as other players, which usually causes defenders to sag off, and that’s when he strikes.
Weaknesses: Aggressiveness, Rebounding, Explosiveness
While Nickens has an A+ shooting stroke for a prospect, he does have quite a bit more to work on for those times when his shot isn’t falling.
For all Nickens length, he does need to be a bit more aggressive going after rebounds. Nickens could be a very good rebounder because of how long he is, but he has to want it a bit more. As it stands, he doesn’t really show much interest in getting gritty down low. That’s fine, but it does limit how effective he can truly be.
Nickens also isn’t an elite on-ball defender just yet. He does have the requisite attributes to be decent, but while he looks like a Nick Faust-type defender, he isn’t ready to step into that role yet. Nickens will need to work on his lateral quickness a lot more before he gets to that stage. His first season or two could be a rough transition on the defensive end of the floor.
While Nickens can play well off of others, he isn’t going to wow you with his passing right now. Again, Nickens is a wing, so it’s necessary to keep in mind that he doesn’t really need to be a great facilitator. Still, it would be nice to see Nickens create for those who create for him once in awhile.
Finally, it’s going to be hard for Nickens to get around some guys off the dribble at the next level because he lacks explosiveness. Nickens has a solid handle and can create space to get his shot off, but his first step isn’t really there and he will have to get crafty to score on better defensive opponents sometimes. If the shot isn’t falling, I can’t see how Nickens would get around someone like Aaron Craft or the like.
It’s hard not to come away pretty impressed with Nickens as a prospect. Of the other five players that Maryland will be bringing in this class, Nickens is the one who has a definite position at the next level, and you have to like that. He isn’t shy about the fact that he’s a shooting wing, and Maryland can always use some deadeye accuracy at that position.
Nickens should be able to provide about ten minutes off the bench his freshman year, but if he continues to improve, there’s no reason why Nickens couldn’t get starters minutes by year three of his college career.
Get to know Nickens more below:
On how the Capitol Classic went:
“It was a lot of fun. I went out, tried to have fun but I also wanted to win at the same time. I feel like I played well, good defense as well. I feel like I didn’t try to do too much, just do what I do well and shoot the ball.”
On his familiarity with Melo Trimble:
“Oh yeah me and Melo have a great relationship, we talk all the time. We spend a lot of time together over the summer. I’m supposed to be going up to his house so he’s coming up to my house for the Mary Kline Classic. Melo is a great player one of the best players I played against. Ever since I got on the circuit, I’m very looking forward to playing with him at Maryland. The fact that both of us can shoot, it’ll be hard for defenses to guard us.”
On the move to the Big Ten:
“I think it was a great move. I really wasn’t concerned about the move anyway because there really isn’t a drop off in talent from the ACC to the Big Ten.”
On what he hopes to improve on over the summer:
“I’m lifting five days a week and looking to get to 185 before I leave high school, 190. Working hard every day, then working hard afterward.”