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Memphis Does Memphis Things to UT/Austin Nichols

You’ve probably heard of the Austin Nichols saga over the past couple of days.


The former highly-ranked recruit recently decided to transfer from Memphis after choosing the Tigers over Tennessee and Duke out of high school a few years ago. Nichols blossomed with the Tigers during the 2014-15 season, averaging 13.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg and 3.4 bpg during his sophomore campaign that was ultimately cut short in February due to injury.

So with the news that Nichols decided to transfer, the Vols, desperately needing some future post help and one of Nichols’ original top choices out of high school, certainly make sense as a potential landing spot. Memphis, for no apparent reason, is trying to prevent that from happening.

The Tigers, understandably, won’t release Nichols to any conference foe, any future opponent or Iowa, Virginia or Providence –who are in a future regular-season tournament field with Memphis. But Memphis added one more team with no valid reason: Tennessee.

CBSSports’ Gary Parrish explains more via Twitter:

To recap…Memphis won’t schedule Tennessee, then blocks Austin Nichols from being released to Tennessee because the Vols are on their future schedule, then realizes they’re wrong and then just blocks Tennessee for no reason.

It’s another puzzling decision by Memphis coach Josh Pastner and the Tigers, who have been reportedly ducking the Vols and now are vindictively blocking Nichols from being released to what would be a very logical place for him to land with no reason to back it up. Why not block Vanderbilt, another major in-state program? Why not add Duke – another original favorite for Nichols? There’s no logic behind the decision except trying to send some kind of message to UT.

Nichols can still attend any school that he chooses – even ones that he’s not released to – but if he goes to any of the schools (such as Tennessee) that Memphis is denying the release to, he will not only have to sit out a year, but also can’t be on scholarship next year, making it highly unlikely that he would choose one of the restricted schools.

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