By Sebastian Obando
Sophomore Jared Nickens caught the ball at the corner of the arc, one of his preferred spots since he arrived in College Park last year. The 6-7 guard quickly rose and released the ball, keeping his eyes fixated on the rim while the ball travelled through the air. The outcome was a familiar sight for Nickens, as the ball swished through the net on a night where the Terps knocked off Cleveland State to improve to 6-0 on the year.
“Jared [Nickens] can really shoot it. He can flat out shoot it and I think he’s going to make every one,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “He can really stretch the floor for us and opens things up for our big guys too.”
This season, Nickens’ involvement in the Terps’ game plans is growing, especially after guard Dion Wiley underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn meniscus on November 10. The New Jersey native is averaging 25 minutes of playing time per game, a six-minute increase from a season ago. Moreover, Nickens is the Terps’ leading three-point scorer, converting a total of 13 long-range shots this season.
Along with his increase in participation, Nickens is also playing at a more efficient level. The sophomore guard is averaging 8.8 points per game, and is coming off a personal season-high 16 points against Cleveland State. In addition, his .419 field goal percentage this season ranks third on the team.
Still, regardless of his newfound success, Nickens refuses to change his mental approach to the game.
“I just want to come and contribute when my number’s called,” Nickens said at the team’s media day on Oct. 20. “Whatever coach Turgeon wants me to do I’m going to do because we have that bigger picture in mind.”
This season, the Terps have the highest field goal percentage in the Big Ten, a testament to the team mindset Turgeon has instilled.
“I think we’re not selfish,” Nickens said regarding the Terps’ success offensively. “We’re just finding better ball movement within our offense and just grinding possession to possession and finding good shots.”