CARBONDALE, Ill. — Chester Nichols, a coaching veteran that has excelled in the development of young ladies on and off the court, has been named the associate head coach for the Saluki women’s basketball program, head coach Kelly Bond-White announced Thursday.
Nichols brings to Carbondale a wealth of experience, including stints at West Virginia (2014-19 & 2003-09), Michigan (2012-14), and Kansas (2010-12). He was the associate head coach at West Virginia during his second stint there, and was most recently an assistant coach at Wichita State for three seasons.
“We are extremely blessed to welcome Chester into our Saluki family,” Bond-White said. “I’ve known Coach Nichols for over 20 years. Chester is a consistent winner; his preparation in the development of players and game-planning have been key to helping his teams reach their pinnacle. Chester brings an infectious energy and authenticity to draw people to him. It’s this nature that has allowed him to build an unrivaled mental rolodex with lasting relationships.”
A native of Ocala, Florida, Nichols is widely considered one of the nation’s top recruiters, and he played an instrumental role in bringing five top-20 recruiting classes to WVU. He was responsible for signing Kysre Gondrezick who became the 4th overall pick (Indiana Fever) in the WNBA Draft, the highest WNBA Draft pick in program history.
West Virginia saw great success during both of Nichols’ tenures with the program. Overall, the Mountaineers made five NCAA tournaments and five WNIT appearances, and won at least 21 games in nine seasons. In the 2016-17 season, West Virginia finished 24-11 and claimed the program’s first Big 12 Conference Tournament title after a historic run in which they knocked off the tournament’s top three seeds (No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 2 Texas and No. 1 Baylor).
“I can’t begin to express how excited I am to be a part of the Saluki family and the Carbondale community,” Nichols said. “The opportunities here at SIU are well beyond basketball; this is where young ladies can enjoy the best of both worlds.”
While Bond-White and Nichols have been connected professionally for over two decades, this is will be the first time the two will serve on the same coaching staff.
“From the moment we spoke after she was hired, it didn’t take long to show why she is an elite leader,” Nichols said. “I’ve known Kelly for over 20 years and she represents everything a young lady aspires to be. I am truly honored to serve under her guidance.”
“Coach Nichols’ continuous thirst to get better every day is seen in sharing his detailed routine and knowledge on and off the court with his players,” Bond-White said. “I’d be remiss not to thank both our spouses. Both have endured late night basketball strategy calls, insights on recruiting, and too many life lessons to name. He will not only have an enormous impact on our program, Chester and his wife, Sylvia will greatly impact all of Carbondale and its surrounding areas.”
Nichols helped Michigan to one of its most successful seasons in program history during his first season in 2012-13, as the Wolverines tied program records for both wins (22) and consecutive wins (10), and made just their third second-round appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Nichols joined Michigan’s staff after spending two seasons with the University of Kansas women’s basketball program as the perimeter coach while assisting in the program’s recruiting efforts.
In two seasons with the Jayhawks, Nichols helped KU to a combined 42-26 overall record while making postseason appearances in the WNIT (2011) and NCAA Tournament (2012). During the 2012 NCAA Tournament, Kansas advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1998 and the third time in program history.
Prior to Kansas, Nichols spent the 2009-10 season with Central Florida. That season, UCF’s recruiting class was ranked No. 44 in the nation and No. 2 in Conference USA by ESPN’s Hoopgurlz.
During the summer of 2008, Nichols was recognized as one of the nation’s best assistant coaches by earning an invitation to Nike’s prestigious Villa 7 Coaches Consortium in Beaverton, Oregon. Additionally, four players that Nichols signed or coached moved on to play professionally in the WNBA.
Nichols is a 1997 graduate of Greenville College, where he played three seasons of varsity football while pursuing his degree in special education.