GARDNER NAMES NICKERSON TO COACHING STAFF
May 1, 2014HOOSIER SPORTS 365
INDIANAPOLIS - IUPUI Head Men's Basketball Coach Jason Gardner has announced that Jon-Michael Nickerson will join the Jaguars staff as an assistant coach. Nickerson comes to IUPUI from Memphis, where he most recently served as a Graduate Manager for the Tigers during Gardner's time as an assistant coach.
"I've known since I was a young teenager I wanted to be a basketball coach. Growing up, I just saw a lot of really talented kids who didn't have the proper coaching and I knew I wanted to get in the profession," Nickerson said. "In working with Coach Gardner (at Memphis), I trust him and obviously he trusts me. I look forward to getting up there and getting started."
Nickerson helped Memphis to a 24-10 mark this past season, ultimately having been drawn to the Tigers' program by Head Coach Josh Pastner. The Millbrook, Ala.-native began his coaching career at Excel Christian (Ga.) Academy, where he served as boys basketball coach and athletics director. He guided Excel to a 26-win season and the program's first-ever GHSA state tournament Elite Eight appearance. He was voted Coach of the Year and his squad was pegged Team of the Year by the Northwest Georgia Tip-Off Club in 2012-13.
The 29-year old Nickerson took a circuitous route to the coaching ranks, beginning with a three-year professional baseball career before playing basketball collegiately at Kennesaw State. The 6-foot-6 lefty was drafted in the 16th round of the 2003 MLB June Amateur Draft and played professionally until 2005 before voluntarily retiring. From there, he attended KSU on a basketball scholarship where he was a four-year starter for the Owls, making 115 appearances and 87 starts in his career. He finished with 795 points and 473 rebounds in his career, including averaging a career-best 10.1 points and 5.6 boards per game his junior season. He earned his degree in Sports Management from KSU in 2010.
"He's young and very hungry," Gardner said. "I know he's very excited about getting in the coaching profession. He really knows the game and it says a lot about his character in that he gave up a professional (baseball) career to pursue basketball. I think he's going to be a relentless recruiter. Having been a professional athlete, he knows about hard work and what it takes to succeed.
"Being from the South, he's going to have great southern ties and some great JUCO ties."
Nickerson is expected to work specifically with the Jaguars' big men.
"(As a player) I had a blue collar mentality," Nickerson said. "I bring versatility to the table. In the college game, there's not a lot of traditional five-men or back to the basket four-men. Everyone wants and is expected to play a lot of different positions. We're going to be extremely physical and we're going to learn how to outsmart opponents. It's fun to watch when players know how to play like that."
Nickerson becomes the second assistant on Gardner's staff as longtime aide Matt Crenshaw was retained from the previous staff.