Hall of Fame head coach Bob Huggins made a trip to Virginia over the weekend to support one of his former players, Darris Nichols.
Huggins was the guest of honor at the annual Red and White Gala in support of the Radford athletic department. Nichols is the head coach of the Highlanders men’s basketball team.
“I did it for my guy. Darris was great,” Huggins said. “He was a terrific point guard for me. He probably taught me more than I taught him.”
Nichols played for Huggins during his junior and senior seasons at WVU.
“I just remember how he treated us. Obviously, we went through a coaching change and he came in. For him, it was like we were already his guys,” Nichols said.
When the former WVU guard took over the Radford program in April of 2021, he remembered the way Huggins handled the transition and tried to the same when he was put in that position.
Huggins is known for giving back to his former players in any way he can. In the case of Nichols, that was having his Radford program travel to the Coliseum during his debut season for a nonconference match up.
That meant a lot to Nichols, as he was embarking on his head coaching journey. It was just another way that Huggins continued to show Nichols how much he valued their relationship.
“He stays in the moment. He gives you advice but he tells you different stories to give you the same message,” Nichols said. “For him to message and call me, and tell me keep moving forward, that was special for me.”
At the event at the Dedmon Center, Huggins reminisced on coaching Nichols at WVU. What he remembers most is the impact Nichols had on his teammates, including Boston Celtics head coach Joe Mazzualla.
“I was laughing the other night as I was watching the Celtics. I can remember we were in a scrimmage with Virginia. I took Darris out because Joe needed some work. Joe was throwing the ball everywhere, so he said ‘take me out, I’m terrible’ and I said no, we are going to work through this,” Huggins said.
“He’s like, ‘no, put Darris back in and take me out.’ I’m like, ‘Joe, we got to get through this.’ Darris was great for Joe. He was a great mentor to him and now look where Joe is today.”
Nichols will make his return to his college venue and face his former head coach for the second time in the 2023-24 season.
The Highlanders will travel to Morgantown again for a game on Dec. 20.