NASHVILLE --- Tennessee State men’s basketball Head Coach Brian “Penny” Collins announced the hiring of Jerry Nichols as an assistant coach. Nichols arrives in Nashville after five highly-successful seasons as the Head Coach of Southwest Tennessee Community College in Memphis.
Nichols was previously the Head Coach at Motlow State Community College and served as a court coach for the USA Basketball Under 18 Junior National Team in 2016.
“Jerry Nichols is a coach that I have the utmost respect for,” Collins said. “We got to know each other as rivals in Region 7 of the Tennessee JUCO League. His teams at Motlow and Southwest were special. He has a knack for getting the most out of his players. His high basketball IQ, energy and determination will be exactly what our team needs to take the next step. He has recruited and coached some of the best JUCO players in the country. He also has experience coaching with USA Basketball. Jerry will help us become a force in recruiting wars right away.”
A native of Memphis, Tenn., Nichols compiled a 200-59 career record in nine seasons as a junior college head coach – winning five Tennessee Community College Athletic Association Coach of the Year honors. Guiding Motlow State from 2009-13, his teams went 80-31. He took over at Southwest Tennessee prior to the 2013-14 season, going 120-28 in five seasons from 2013-18.
“I’m really excited about this new opportunity,” Nichols said. “I’ve known Coach Collins for years. I had the opportunity to coach against him when he was the coach at Columbia State, and we definitely had some epic battles. I’m excited about working with him here at TSU.”
Nichols won two TCCAA Coach of the Year awards at Motlow State, serving as the head coach and athletics director. His best season with the Bucks came in 2012-13 when his team won the TCCAA Championship and earned a berth in the NJCAA National Tournament. Motlow State finished 13th in the final NJCAA Division I poll in 2013.
Moving on to Southwest Tennessee, Nichols continued to thrive, picking up three more TCCAA Coach of the Year awards. Nichols’ Saluqis finished 18th or better in the final NJCAA Division I polls in four of his five seasons. Twice Southwest finished 11th, including the 2015-16 season, when the Saluqis went 30-5 and earned a berth in the NJCAA Elite Eight.
With USA Basketball’s U18 Junior National Team, Nichols helped coach the squad at the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championships in Valdivia, Chile which featured eight national teams from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean.
Nichols began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Walters State Community College during the 2006-07 season before heading to Union College in Kentucky for the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons.
As a player, Nichols starred for Westwood High School in Memphis and went on to become a two-time All-American guard at Walters State Community College. The two-time TCCAA Player of the Year ranked ninth in the nation in scoring with 21.6 points per game as a sophomore. Nichols continued his education and playing career at Arkansas State, where he led the team in three-point shooting and was named the team’s top defensive player during his junior season. He was the recipient of ASU’s Leadership Award as a senior.
Nichols graduated from Arkansas State in 2006 and earned his master’s degree from Union College (Ky.) in 2009.