It is time to move on.
After dedicating a majority of his life to the sport of basketball, Eric Nichols is ready to say goodbye and turn his attention toward life off the court.
Before the former Lometa standout walks away, though, he has something to prove.
During the tail end of a stellar senior season, the District 28-1A, Division II MVP was limited by a severe ankle injury, and despite his best efforts, Nichols was unable to function as usual, scoring a season-low five points in the Hornets’ area-round playoff loss to Oakwood.
The experience left a bitter taste in his mouth.
“It has just made me a lot more confident that I need to get out there and show myself that I can do a lot more than I did,” the wing said. “I just need to get back in my groove like I was before I got injured.”
Nichols will soon receive an opportunity at redemption after being selected to play in the Texas Six-Man Coaches Association All-Star Basketball Game in Wichita Falls.
Aspiring to become a trainer or coach one day, Nichols intends to remain involved with the game he loves, but this will most likely be the final official contest off his career as he prepares to spend the next two years at Blinn College.
“I think about it sometimes and wonder, ‘Do I really want this to be my last time?’” Nichols said. “I could go to tryout somewhere and possibly get a spot, but I kind of want to have a life without it being straight basketball every day. ... I figured by going into a coaching program, I could stay in it and life won’t have to be as complicated.”
Nichols, who will play for the East team, averaged a team-high 16.2 points to go with 8.5 rebounds, 3.8 steals and 2.7 assists in the 2013-14 season and was named to the Killeen Daily Herald’s All-Area Second Team.
Lometa went 20-7 overall last season, earning an undefeated district championship while remaining in the state rankings all season.
The selection extends the program’s streak of having a player selected for the all-star game to three consecutive years. In 2012, Dylan Straley participated, and last year, Jose Acevedo played.
“It really is a big honor,” Hornets head coach Aaron Nuckles said. “We’ve been lucky enough to send a couple kids, but, nothing against those two, I think Eric deserves it more because he has more accolades and honors.”
In addition to Lometa being represented in the all-star game for the third year in a row, Nichols’ selection also continues a family tradition. Older sister Marissa Nichols played in the girls all-star game two years ago after being placed on the all-district first team as a senior.
Originally slated as an alternate, Nichols was not sure he would get an opportunity to play in the game scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. on July 19 at Midwestern State’s D.L. Ligon Gym.
“It felt good,” he said. “Them calling me felt like a relief because I really wanted to play in this all-star game like my sister did and a bunch of my friends did. I wanted to get that experience as well.”
Merely participating will not be enough, however. Nichols wants to prove he belongs before walking off the court one last time.
“There are a bunch of good athletes,” he said. “It’s going to make me feel a lot better about myself knowing I can play up to the level of those athletes.”
Contact Clay Whittington at email@example.com