Kipper Nichols is the most athletically gifted player on the Illinois roster. There, I said it.
Between punctuating fast breaks with a one-handed flush, to out-running a guard and blocking them from behind with authority, Nichols can do anything he really wants to on a basketball court. Don't believe me: see for yourself.
Therein lies the problem. He is bound by nothing but himself. And there are many instances of Kipper Nichols not playing the way he can. It can be maddening, befuddling, whatever adjective you can use to describe what happens when Kipper loses his motor. It happens too many times in games where Illinois needs Nichols to step up.
Instead, he disappears.
Tyler Cook just threw Kipper Nichols around like a rag doll— FullCountTommy (@FullCountTommy) February 28, 2018
Man the defensive IQ of Kipper Nichols is almost non existent— Evan Collins (@EvanCollins92) February 25, 2018
It's entirely up to Kipper Nichols to be what everyone can clearly see. He can be his own worst enemy, going through stretches where his defensive ineptitude and lack of energy are very apparent.
Then there's the good Kipper, the guy who's dropping 31 points on Iowa at the Big Ten Tournament and 27 on a top-five Michigan State, looking like the best player on the floor and taking whatever he wants.
Brad Underwood wants Kipper to live right there, in Good Kipper Land and stay there. Consistency is critical for Kipper to realize his full potential. If he can, this is a player that, in my eyes, could carve out a niche in the NBA. He's that talented.
There are rumors running rampant about transfers, many of which include Kipper Nichols. However, the best thing for this team is for No. 2 to stay and learn from Underwood. Because there is no one more talented on this roster than Kipper. Illinois basketball needs all the athletes it can get. They just need more good Kipper.