Virginia’s Tony Bennett on Austin Nichols: I hope this is ‘a turning point for him’

Virginia Athletics

Virginia head coach Tony Bennett announced on Friday night that he had dismissed star center Austin Nichols from his program.

Nichols, a 6-foot-9 center that transferred into the program from Memphis, was a McDonald’s all-american coming out of high school. He averaged 13.3 points, 6.1 boards and 3.4 blocks as a sophomore with the Tigers.

Bennett discussed the dismissal after No. 8 Virginia knocked off Yale, 62-38, at John Paul Jones Arena on Sunday afternoon.

“I love Austin. My hope is that this will be a turning point for him and he’ll take the right steps,” Bennett said. “Basketball’s not a part of it here at Virginia, so my hope is that he’ll take those steps. It’s always hard [dismissing a player]. A father disciplines his children, and as fathers, you all know that sometimes you have to do that.”

“That’s the stuff you don’t like about coaching but it’s the necessary stuff that is far more impactful and lasting to the guys in your program, the decisions you make that hopefully make a difference in the big picture.”

Nichols had played in just a single game for the Cavaliers, scoring 11 points against St. Francis (NY) early in the week. He was suspended for the team’s exhibitions, scrimmages and season-opener this month.