HAYS, Kansas -

To look at the stats, you can see that Wichita native Craig Nicholson is a force on the basketball court. The Northwest grad is averaging a team leading 18 points, eight assists and two steals a game for Fort Hays State University. But to actually look at Nicholson, you might not see a basketball player.

“Ever since I was little my dad told me to keep a chip on my shoulder,” said the 5’8” Nicholson. “I feel like I’m proving a point.”

The sophomore never let his size slow him down on the basketball court. In high school he averaged 20 points a game in the city league and was a 6A second team al-state selection. Still, when it came time for Nicholson to take his game to the next level, not many teams came calling.

“People always looked down on my because of my height and people didn’t want to give me a chance to play DI,” said Nicholson.

One school that did give him a chance was Division II FHSU. Head coach Mark Johnson says his size didn’t ever define Nicholson the player.

“He’s just used to playing amongst the trees,” said Johnson. “When you’ve been small your whole life, if you want to be good, you got to figure out how to play with them and Craig has definitely done that.”

Despite all of his early success at Fort Hays, Nicholson never stops working. He is currently leading the Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletic Association in steals, is second in assists and sixth in scoring, yet he is always trying raise his game.

“I talked with coach and everyone else and they were saying I needed to work on my mid-range” said Nicholson. “I really took pride in that and worked on it over the summer and I’m glad it’s finally starting to pay off and showing all my hard work.”

Lead by Nicholson the Tigers are 18-3 on the season ranked number 24 in Division II basketball, and he says he can’t imagine being any place else right now.

“It doesn’t matter ‘cause I’m happy here,” said Nicholson. “I’m not going anywhere."