Florida basketball loses second assistant to mid-major head coaching job as upheaval continues

By Adam Silverstein
April 21, 2021
Florida basketball loses second assistant to mid-major head coaching job as upheaval continues

Image Credit: UAA / Tim Casey

Radford has hired Florida Gators assistant basketball coach Darris Nichols to be its next head coach. Nichols, one of head coach Mike White’s original assistants, has been with Florida since the start of the 2015-16 season.

With shakeups occurring at Cincinnati and UNC-Greensboro this offseason, Radford suddenly found itself in need of a coach when Mike Jones was hired away by the latter program. Nichols graduated from nearby Radford High School and played for West Virginia; he is well-known throughout the area, which should help massively in recruiting for the Big South program.

“Darris is many things. A former great player, a leader, a great teammate, an old soul, a consistent grinder, an ethical worker, a commanding presence on the court and an awesome human being,” White said in a statement. “It’s a big-time hire by Radford! He’s more than ready to come home.”

Nichols’ departure is the second from White’s staff this offseason and part of a massive turnover within the Gators basketball program. Though obtaining head coaching jobs is a step up in responsibility, neither of the offseason departures is necessarily a step forward in their careers.

Fellow former assistant Jordan Mincy, also an original White hire, was tabbed as the head coach at Jacksonville in March. Mincey, an up-and-coming coach and stellar recruiter, has not yet been replaced on the staff.

White has now lost all three of his original assistant coaches to head coaching jobs over the last three offseasons. Dusty May was hired as head coach at FAU ahead of the 2018-19 season.

Al Pinkins, the associate head coach, is the lone assistant remaining on White’s bench. Pinkins was hired following May’s departure but only after a strange situation occurred in which ex-Northwestern assistant Armon Gates agreed to join UF only to wind up at Nebraska instead.

Not only does White have two assistant coaches to hire, his roster has undergone a massive change this offseason.

Florida has added four impact transfers — Boston College sophomore forward CJ Felder, Charleston Southern senior guard Philandrous Fleming Jr., Penn State junior G Myreon Jones and UMKC senior G Brandon McKissic — after seeing three players declare the 2021 NBA Draft and four enter the transfer portal.

One of the three in the draft, junior F Colin Castleton, did not hire an agent and is expected to return to the Gators for his final season. Florida is also awaiting word from junior F Keytonate Johnson, the 2020 Preseason SEC Player of the Year whose season ended in December after he collapsed minutes into a road game against Florida State. Johnson was ruled out for the season but remained with the team in a bench advisory role; he has not yet announced his long-term health status and whether he could return to play at UF or elsewhere.

Florida is only welcoming in a single freshman as part of the Class of 2021, four-star G Kowacie Reeves.

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