By R.L. Bynum
Tyler Nickel is going home to Virginia.
The 6–7, 220-pound wing who got limited playing time in his freshman season at North Carolina, is transferring to Virginia Tech. He got a season-high 25 minutes, scoring eight points, in the Tar Heels’ 80–72 Dec. 4 loss in Blacksburg, Va., to the Hokies.
Nickel committed to Carolina in September of his senior year in high school three days after making his official visit after also considering the Hokies. He already knew Coach Mike Young well.
“I chose [Virginia Tech] because I believe it’s a great situation for me individually as well as being part of a team that can win a lot of games,” Nickel told On3.com. “I also have built a really good relationship with Coach Young and the whole staff.”
Nickel is from Harrisonburg, Va., which is 139 miles away from Blacksburg. The former four-star recruit is the all-time leading scorer in Virginia high school history with 2,909 points. He also collected 817 rebounds, 333 assists, 127 blocks and 159 steals in his high school career.
He is the first of the six UNC players who entered the transfer portal to commit to another school. Also in the portal are Caleb Love, Dontrez Styes, Justin McKoy, Puff Johnson and Will Shaver.
In 150 minutes over 25 games as a Tar Heel, he scored 52 points and six 3-pointers with 16 rebounds, seven assists, three steals and three blocks. His shortcomings on defense appeared to be one reason that Coach Hubert Davis didn’t give him more playing time.
Nickel scored in double figures only once, when he netted 16 points in 19 minutes in a 100–76 win Dec. 13 over The Citadel. He only played double-digit minutes two other times in an ACC game other than the Virginia Tech game, playing 12 minutes at Syracuse and 10 at Wake Forest, scoring three in both games.
The Hokies lose Justyn Mutts off of last season’s team.
Here is a rundown of the Tar Heels’ scholarship players from the just-completed season, with their class should they return next season listed. UNC has three available scholarships.
|5||5th year||Armando Bacot||5||6–11||235|
|5th year||Cormac Ryan (Notre Dame)||3||6–5||195|
|5th year||Paxton Wojcik (Brown)||3||6–5||200|
|Junior||Harrison Ingram (Stanford)||3||6–7||230|
|Senior||Jae’Lyn Withers (Louisville)||4||6–9||220|
|ESPN rank||Incoming freshmen|
|10 (Class |
|Elliot Cadeau (5 star)||PG||6–0||175|
|64 (Class |
|Zayden High (4 star)||4||6–9||225|
|Caleb Love (Arizona)||2||6–4||200|
|Dontrez Styles (Georgetown)||4||6–6||210|
|Tyler Nickel (Va. Tech)||3||6–7||220|
|Justin McKoy (Hawaii)||4||6–8||220|
|Puff Johnson (Penn State)||3||6–8||200|
|Will Shaver (UAB)||5||6–10||260|
|In transfer portal|
|ESPN rank||2024–25 freshman class|
|5||Ian Jackson (5 star)||2||6–5||180|
|37||Drake Powell (4 star)||3||6–5||185|
|48||James Brown (4 star)||5||6–9||225|