Skip to content

The S'Mya Diary - Part II

My freshman year with the Jayhawks, by S'Mya Nichols

5 min read
Kansas freshman S'Mya Nichols at KU basketball media day. [Chance Parker photo]

She’s one of the most highly recruited Jayhawks in KU women’s basketball history and her goals and expectations for her career, this season and this team are sky high.

She also happens to be a native Kansan who joined Brandon Schneider’s program to help take KU women’s basketball to another level.

Join us as we chronicle Year 1 of the S’Mya Nichols era at Kansas and look for new editions of The S’Mya Diary each week throughout the upcoming season.

The S'Mya File

Age: 19 | Height: 6-0 | Position: Guard

High School: Shawnee Mission West | AAU: Missouri Phenom

Notable: One of six sisters in her family, Nichols was the nation's No. 5-ranked prospect at her position and rated No. 22 overall in the Class of 2023 by Collegiate Girls Basketball Report... She was one of 50 players on the Naismith Girls High School Player of the Year Award watch list and a McDonald's All-America nominee, and she was a member of the 2022 Team USA U18 National Team, which won a gold medal at the FIBA U18 Americas Championship... Scored more than 1,000 points in her prep career while earning several all-state and all-league honors... Committed to Kansas in October 2022, choosing KU over Tennessee, Arizona Oklahoma, Missouri and many others.

Instagram: @smyak12 | Twitter/X: @SmyaKNichols

We started this, unofficially, with Nichols sharing her thoughts about her first ever Late Night in the Phog. And she has agreed to provide R1S1 Sports with an insider’s look at her first season as a Jayhawk. 

In Part II, we take a look at the final week leading up to the start of the Jayhawks’ season. It came after a couple of exciting weeks, with Nichols taking her turn in representing the program in front of the media. So, was there any kind of lull during the final down week before go time?

“Honestly, no. To me, it’s just the grind of it that’s so great and I’m just really excited for the season to start and I know we had to put the work in to be successful when we get going.”

“Media week was buzzing, it was fun, everyone was energetic and then we had a week of nothing but practice and I guess it wasn’t like high-energy, but it was still a week to get better.”

A week of nothing but school and practice was nothing new for Nichols, who got a taste of that this summer and has always enjoyed the opportunity to work on her game. So, just how different are college practices from what she saw during high school?

“They’re just a lot more intense, faster, and you have to strive for perfection when it comes to practice. But you also have to have a mentality and know that you’re supposed to mess up. That’s why we’re practicing, you know?”

“It’s very competitive at practice and we’re always going at each other but also being positive toward each other. Just because we’re each other’s teammates doesn’t mean we’re going to go any softer. It’s a good practice and we all just try to make each other better so we can be better as a whole.”

“There definitely is a switch you flip to kind of get locked in, and it also helps that we have practice players that are guys. All that does is make us play more aggressive.”

Nichols is wired to want to put in the work, so the harder the better in her eyes simply because of how big her goals are and how much she believes in the end result.

“Of course, there’s days where it’s just like, ‘Ugh, let’s get this over with; I hope it’s not too hard.’ But, when it comes to competing against each other, yeah. I feel like that helps all of us as a whole anyway, so we might as well go as hard as possible.”

“I feel like I came into it knowing that it wasn’t going to be easy. So, I’m not going to say the transition was easy because, honestly, the transition was difficult when it came to the pace of the game. That was probably the most difficult thing.”

“The practices are totally different. High school practices are really amusing. Everyone laughs, everyone can joke the whole time. And then, when you come to college, it’s serious, you’re serious for 2-plus hours and constantly putting in work and constantly going full-speed to get the right results because, like I said, you’re craving perfection on every drill.”

“AAU was a tiny bit similar to college. AAU practices are just really intense because you have a whole bunch of people on your team who are just like do-or-die for offers to go to college. Everyone’s fighting for what they want and fighting for their spot and trying to secure their spot so they can pursue their dreams.”

“I feel like our practices resemble how we’ll play in our real games. So, I feel like if we start off soft, we’ll definitely play soft, so we try to avoid that part.”

While last week was mostly a quiet week for Nichols, there was a day when she received a little love on a national level. In an article previewing the upcoming women’s college basketball season, Nichols was named as one of the top freshmen to watch in all of college basketball.

“Yeah, I saw that. I mean, I think it was an honor. It was really cool to see. But, I don’t know, I think I’m just so level-headed that I thought it was cool and great but I just didn’t make that big of a deal about it. I just thought it was cool and I was honored. That’s it.”

Enough talk. It’s game time.

Nichols and the Jayhawks will open the 2023-24 season at 6:30 p.m. tonight against Northwestern State at Allen Fieldhouse.

In case you missed it, here's Part I of The S'Mya Diary. Look for Part III next week. In it, we'll talk to the KU freshman about her first official game as a Jayhawk and everything that went into it.

— For tickets to all KU athletic events, visit