Birmingham, Ala. – Nick Pringle Before he shone on the brightest stage in college basketball, he had to make a stop in Dodge, City Kansas.
Nicknamed “The Cowboy Capital of the World,” the Midwestern town’s main strip has an Applebees’, an IHOP and a myriad of Mexican restaurants strung together in a vintage tribute to the Old West. Dodge City doesn’t offer much in terms of social life, but it’s the ideal setting for establishing a blue-collar identity.
“It was a place in the middle of nowhere,” Pringle said. “There really was nothing to do but grind. I got that dog out there. I just learned how to be a better person and it helped me in the long run.”
Playing in a 1,500-seat community college field was not part of Pringle’s plan. The Seabrook, South Carolina native spent her first season of college at Wofford College, four hours away from home. In 15 games with the Terriers, he averaged 2.0 points and 2.1 rebounds.
Pringle admits those numbers should have been better, adding that “they didn’t really lock in and buy a lot.” That lack of discipline extended to the classroom, where his struggles eventually forced him to put his name in the transfer portal.
His limited playing time combined with less-than-stellar academic marks limited Pringle’s offers to mostly junior college programs. It also opened the door for Jake Williams to make his move.
Williams, who was then the head coach at Dodge City, recruited Pringle out of high school while working at USC Salkehatchee. Basically lost to Wofford, he wasted no time in catching up to the 6-foot-9 forward.
Williams explained his case to Pringle and his AAU coach why he should commit to Dodge City while laying out a step-by-step plan that would lead him back to the Division I level.
“I told him, ‘I don’t care if you averaged two points and two rebounds at Wofford, if you do what you’re supposed to do academically, you’ll have every Division I division in the country recruiting you. wants.'”
With the pressure to prove himself in the classroom and on the court, Pringle headed to Dodge City. That along with his hunger to get back to the top level of college basketball lit the flame that fueled him for the next year.
Williams said, “He had an intensity and an edge in high school – it grew.” “I think when things didn’t pan out at Wofford, he really had a chip on his shoulder. He had an edge, a pop, a swagger about him. He had a really good motor in high school and was very Energy that I thought was contagious. I think the energy really skyrocketed after Wofford. He had this motivation, this chip on his shoulder and it really helped his energy.”
Pringle’s drive helped him record seven double-doubles, including a season-high 20 rebounds against Hutchinson Community College. Its hard-hitting forwards led Dodge City to a 30-5 record as they earned a berth in the NJCAA D1 National Championship Tournament.
Pringle finished his tenure in the JUCO averaging 9.2 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. He earned the KJCCC Co-Defensive Player of the Year and was named to the conference’s All-Defensive Team. His production on the floor made him the No. 1 rated JUCO player in the country, which came with Division I offers from Alabama to Georgia. Pringle signed with the Crimson Tide and brought his hunger with him to Tuscaloosa.
To find out, Alabama proceeded to have Charles Bediaco in a meeting on the court.
“He’s really intense and he’s really competitive,” Bediaco said. “He’ll tell you about it for sure. I think he helps sharpen my mind.”
He is known for his intensity in the locker room and there were times throughout the season when he boiled over with some of his teammates. Bediako and Noah Gurley said they both “got into it” with Pringle because of his intensity during practice and his desire to win at everything.
As for Bediaco, he’s happy to have Pringle over Alabama and only face him in practice.
“I was surprised that he was coming out of JUCO,” Bediaco said. “He’s a good player, a really great player. He could have gone anywhere to play, but he chose to play with us and it shows how much he’s bought into this team. He’s worried about his minutes. isn’t and he’s just ready when his time comes.”
Pringle had to wait a while before he got his chance to shine.
For the first three months of the season, Pringle appeared in 25 games and scored 10 or more points in only three of those contests. He averaged just seven minutes per game, mostly coming in relief of Bediako when he was in foul trouble or if he needed relief.
But against Georgia, Pringle got his chance to unleash that intensity on an opponent. In front of more than 15,000 Crimson Tide that night, Pringle had his career game high of 19 points and 12 rebounds.
When the forward picked it up off the floor, there was nothing the Bulldogs could do to stop it as the forward shot an efficient 9-for-12.
Noah Clooney said, “One-on-one he’s probably the toughest guy out there as a big man.” ,
From then on, Pringle’s role grew as he became one of the first players to come off the bench and was usually called upon to jumpstart the team with a powerful dunk or take charge. With his confidence growing it was only a matter of time before the forward had another explosive game.
Pringle got his chance on Thursday against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
With Alabama needing a spark to ensure a first round victory in the NCAA tournament, head coach Nate Oates turned to a one-time JUCO player who delivered. In 20 minutes, Pringle scored 19 points and added a career-high 15 rebounds in the win.
Oates said, “I was really happy to see him play well in the NCAA tournament game because there are games where he hasn’t played much.” But he has handled it well. He just keeps getting better.
“Glad to see him play. Glad to be able to get Charles a bit of a rest. Hopefully, we can build on that, get some confidence back, so when we need him, he’s there for us.” It takes a lot of confidence to play well.”
It was his shining moment on the grandest stage but all Williams could see was the same talented kid he saw in South Carolina. Now Pringle serves as an inspiration to every under-recruited basketball player who dreams of breaking into the national spotlight.
Williams said, “It’s nice to see someone who had to figure it out and find a way to get to where they are because it just means so much.” “Everyone’s story and path is different. The thing with Nick is, it’s not handed to him. He really had to earn it to get where he is today. I’m really proud of him.”