Courtesy of Tennessee State Athletics:
Tennessee State head men’s basketball coach Brian “Penny” Collins has elevated Jerry Nichols to associate head coach for the upcoming 2023-24 season, as announced by Collins on Friday.
Entering his sixth season on the TSU sidelines, Nichols has been a mainstay alongside Collins since his hiring in 2018. No stranger as a head coach, Nichols compiled a 200-59 record in nine season at the junior college level.
Prior to working with Collins, the two battled as opposing coaches in Region 7 of the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association. Collins at the time was the head coach of Columbia State.
“Jerry is beyond deserving of this title,” said Collins. “He has been loyal to TSU from day 1 and really has grown here as a coach. I have increased Jerry’s responsibilities every year and there is nothing that he can’t handle in the higher education realm of athletics. He is a future D1 head coach and it’s time for people to view him as such!.”
A native of Memphis, Nichols won five TCCAA Coach of the Year honors. He got his first head coaching role at Motlow State (2009-13) and at Southwest Tennessee from 2013-18 until his appointment at TSU.
At Southwest Tennessee, Nichols picking up three TCCAA Coach of the Year awards and won 120 games in five highly-successful seasons. Nichols’ Saluqis finished 18th or better in the final NJCAA Division I polls in four of his five seasons. Southwest finished 11th twice, including the 2015-16 season, when the Saluqis went 30-5 and earned a berth in the NJCAA Elite Eight.
Nichols won his first two TCCAA Coach of the Year awards at Motlow State, where he went 80-31 serving as the head coach and athletics director. His best season with the Bucks came in 2012-13 when his team won the TCCAA Championship and earned a berth in the NJCAA National Tournament. Motlow State finished 13th in the final NJCAA Division I poll in 2013.
Nichols began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Walters State Community College during the 2006-07 season before heading to Union College in Kentucky for the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons.
Nichols has been a contributor to USA Basketball through the years and served as a coach for the USA Basketball Under 18 Junior National Team in 2016 at the FIBA Americas U18 Championships in Valdivia, Chile which featured eight national teams from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean.
As a player, Nichols starred for Westwood High School in Memphis and went on to become a two-time All-American guard at Walters State Community College. The two-time TCCAA Player of the Year ranked ninth in the nation in scoring with 21.6 points per game as a sophomore. Nichols continued his education and playing career at Arkansas State, where he led the team in three-point shooting and was named the team’s top defensive player during his junior season. He was the recipient of ASU’s Leadership Award as a senior.
Nichols graduated from Arkansas State in 2006 and earned his graduate degree from Union College (Ky.) in 2009.