By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
"We knew we had something special," Killeen assistant basketball coach Chuck Summers said of Tre' Nichols as a freshman.
"Coming in a freshman and sophomore, he was the low man on the totem pole. The past couple of years, he's been a leader on the floor for us, especially down in the crunch when we need a score. It's been nice having that go-to guy."
The day after scoring 20 points and hauling in eight rebounds in his first game as a senior, Nichols signed his paperwork to attend Texas State University next fall in front of family, friends and teammates Wednesday morning in the Killeen High library.
"It's less stress on my part," Nichols said of the signing. "Last night I had a good game, we were a bit rusty, but I can see we're going to have another good year. I think we picked up where we left off last year."
Nichols was on the 2004-05 regional quarterfinalist team as a freshman under former Killeen coach Bo Burgess. Since the Roos have gone 20-0 in district games en route to back-to-back district titles, but haven't won a playoff game since that 2004-05 season.
Last year, Nichols averaged 20 points, four steals and four assists on his way to being recognized as one of six juniors to be selected to the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches All-State team last year. He was one of eight juniors on the All-Region team and District 16-4A's Most Valuable Player.
"He had a great opportunity to go on to play basketball after the accolades started coming in last year," Nichols' father, Freddie Nichols Jr., said.
Nichols started seeing recruitment letters as early as his freshman year and his father said the decision was Tre's to make.
"I let him make the decision," Freddie said. "I was on the outside as a facilitator. I didn't want it to come down to him feeling pressured to pick a school and then not like it after a year.
"We've always been a close family and I knew he didn't want to go out of state. He wanted us to be able to drive and see him play. We would've gone anywhere to see him play. It's a blessing for us to have him in this position to play basketball at college on a scholarship."
Nichols was voted District Newcomer of the Year as a freshman averaging 10 points a game. As a sophomore, he averaged almost 17 a game and earned 16-4A's Offensive MVP.
From the beginning, Burgess saw that Nichols would be a vital part of the Runnin' Roos basketball team.
"He's a little point guard and has those basketball senses that can't be taught," Burgess said in 2004.
A basketball sense that has fed into Killeen's and, likewise, Texas State's up-tempo style.
"He's a good kid and easy to coach," Summers said. "He had a few moments (as a freshman) that he had to learn a few things are different than middle school basketball, like coach Burgess stomping in his ear. I had to settle him down and let him know that that's just part of playing varsity basketball.
"(College basketball) is a whole lot quicker and faster and the players are taller. It's going to be a huge jump again. He's not going to playing against the same kids that he's played with on the court for the last four years."
Added third-year Killeen coach Jason Fossett, "He's going into a good program with a good coach. Coach (Doug) Davolos has done a wonderful job with that Texas State program. Tre' will fit right into that system of pushing the ball up and down the floor."
In his three years, Nichols said he's matured.
"I've got a better feel for the game and I'm making smarter decisions in the up-tempo style that we run," Nichols said. "That's the same system for Texas State, so I'm also preparing myself for that.
"I have to step up and be the leader of this team. Without my teammates and coaches, I don't think this would have been possible at all."
Contact Kevin Posival at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7562.