Arizona Preps Q&A: Tyler Nickel

by Chris Monter | Posted on Friday, September 17th, 2021

NBA scout and draft expert for many years, Chris Monter (Monter Draft News) has joined the Arizona Preps' staff, and recently hit the road on behalf of Arizona Preps to cover some of Arizona's top prospects. In the process, Monter covered and featured the Arizona travel programs in participation - interviewing their top prospects and evaluating their play during the competition.

Tyler Nickel, a 6-foot-7 2022 small forward from East Rockingham (VA) High, is one of the top outside shooters in the country. Nickel shined this spring and summer for a loaded Team Loaded (VA). Nickel will made his college choice this week for North Carolina, after visiting North Carolina this past weekend. His final five schools were North Carolina, Iowa, Virginia Tech, LSU and Butler

Arizona Preps recently caught up with Nickel (before his commitment) to learn the latest on his college recruitment and senior year. 

Arizona Preps: You are playing with one of the more talented teams on the AAU circuit. How much do you think this helps your game playing with and against great competition as you get ready to go onto college? 

Tyler Nickel: Iron sharpens iron, so anytime you can play against high level guys and guys you consider the best players in the country from over, you always want to play in those opportunities. It is always helpful to play against guys like that.   

Arizona Preps: You have had a big spring and summer this year. How much do you think your game has improved from this time last year? 

Tyler Nickel: I would say that it has definitely evolved a lot. I would say, physically, I have just matured a lot and got a lot more athletic and explosive. At the same time, the game has slowed down, the more you play against guys at this level.   

Arizona Preps: How tough has it been with recruiting with everything going on in the world with masks, Zoom, COVID and not really being able to have a lot of coaches see you until the last month or two? How difficult has that been? 

Tyler Nickel: It has been a little difficult. Everything had to be in Zoom instead of face-to-face. Couldn’t really see anyone, but now that coaches are able to come watch us, we can get on campus and it opens up a lot more things up. This past year was kind of iffy. We didn’t know what was going to happen, but now things are kind of getting back to normal.   

Arizona Preps: With the coaches not being able to watch you for the past year, do you notice them a lot now that they are here? A lot of the coaches wear shirts so that you know what colleges are watching you play.   

Tyler Nickel: Definitely. For a year, it was just live streams, so you could know that they were watching, but you weren’t physically seeing them. Now, seeing that they are physically there gives you a sense of comfort and that they prioritize you and are coming to watch and show love. Definitely gives you a better understanding. 

Arizona Preps: If I had told you a year ago that you would have more than 19 scholarships going into July, would you have believed me? 

Tyler Nickel: It’s crazy. A lot of hard work every single day, so I would have told you back then, “Yes, I really hoped so,” but who knows how realistic that would have been then. All the time and effort put me in the situation where I am right now. 

Arizona Preps: I read that growing up, you were a big North Carolina fan. Was that your favorite team growing up?   

Tyler Nickel: Growing up, they were just always on. I was always watching them, so when I was little, they were probably my favorite.      

Arizona Preps: You are in ACC country, but do watch on non-ACC games? 

Tyler Nickel: Yes. I watch everything. I watch everything, because I like to break down film. I more break down concepts and I don’t know the specific players off the top of my head, but if it is a situation that I could see myself in, I break that down.        

Arizona Preps: Was there a player this year in college that you said “that player is like me?” 

Tyler Nickel: They were a couple. One that I used to break down was Johnny Juzang from UCLA, but that is just one of many guys that I kind of broke down. 

Arizona Preps: When you finally do pick a school, what are going to be the main factors that make you pick School A over School B or C? 

Tyler Nickel: I would say wherever I can go to be in the best position. Obviously, I am a competitor, so I want to be in a competitive situation and win a national championship, but at the same time, I want to be at the best place to develop me and to make the best possible NBA prospect possible. 

Arizona Preps: Do you come from an athletic family?  

Tyler Nickel: Both of my parents played Division III. My older brothers weren’t really hoopers. My dad played at Plattsburgh State in New York and my mom played D3 in Michigan, but she got hurt. 

Arizona Preps: Is that where you got the love of the game?  

Tyler Nickel: Yes. From Day One, it has always been basketball. 

Arizona Preps: You averaged 35 points per game, which is crazy. I’m sure that opposing teams played zones and a box in one to try to shut you down. Is that something you kind of liked the challenge of still being successful, despite what other teams through at you?  

Tyler Nickel: Yes. I definitely like playing through that type of stuff, because it makes me make more decisions and keeps my head in the game, regardless of who we are playing. 

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