Prized freshman signee Kipper Nichols never enrolled for the fall semester at Tulane and will not be part of the men’s basketball team this season.
Nichols, a 6-foot-6 small forward from Lakewood, Ohio, chose the Green Wave after receiving offers from Maryland, Butler, Clemson and Nebraska, among others. He was part of a six-player freshman class that was by far the highest rated of coach Ed Conroy’s tenure.
Conroy and Nichols cited “personal reasons” for his departure in a university release Monday. After spending some time on campus for summer school in June, Nichols returned to Ohio to be with his ailing mother and did not come back.
Tulane has granted him a release from his scholarship.
“This was a very hard decision to make, and I appreciate the overwhelming support from the entire staff and team during my family’s time of need,” Nichols said in a university release. “My mother and I are both extremely grateful for the opportunity provided by Coach Conroy, Tulane University’s coaching staff and the team.”
Nichols averaged 18.6 points and 4.7 rebounds as a senior for St. Edward High School, leading his team to the state semifinals a year after guiding it to the championship. When he committed to Tulane, he talked about revitalizing a program that has not been to the NCAA tournament since 1995 or even the NIT since 2000.
Tulane has had one winning record in Conroy’s first five years, going 20-15 in 2012-13 and earning a bid to the CollegeInsider.com tournament. The Wave finished 15-16 this past season — its first in the American Athletic Conference — after losing 11 of its last 13 games.
Starting point guard Jonathan Stark then transferred along with reserves Payton Henson, Keith Pinckney and Josh Hearlihy, clearing the way for the second huge transition under Conroy.
The Wave was hit hard after the 2012-13 season when point guard Ricky Tarrant transferred to Alabama and power forward Josh Davis transferred to San Diego State as a graduate student, part of an exodus of six players.
Nichols was expected to be a key member of the latest makeover.
“Due to personal and family reasons and after multiple discussions with Kipper and his mother, Tanicia Porter, we are granting this request,” athletic director Rick Dickson said in Tulane’s release. “We supported Kipper being close to his family during a difficult time this summer and continue to support him for the same reasons in honoring this request now.”
Tulane begins practice Oct. 3, with Conroy welcoming freshman guards Von Julien of Riverside, Melvin Frazier of Higgins and Chicago product Kain Harris plus forwards Blake Paul of Landry-Walker and Taron Oliver of Oxon Hill, Maryland.
“I’m extremely excited about this group,” Conroy said. “I feel really good about where we are and didn’t feel like we needed to do anything else.
“We’ve covered all the positions.”