The 14-year-old boy who moved from Anchorage, Alaska to Las Vegas in pursuit of his basketball dreams has grown up now. All 19 years old, 6 feet 5 inches and 227 pounds. Prepared for playing professional basketball.
“Sometimes I just look back like how far I’ve come,” Daishen Nix said Wednesday on the eve of the NBA Draft. “Every game I’ve played, every tournament I’ve been to and the experience I’ve had, it’s been really crazy.”
Come Thursday night, it’s going to get even crazier.
Nix will find out exactly where he will pursue a basketball career that began in Alaska and flourished at the Trinity International School of the Bill and Lillie Heinrich YMCA. He spent last season playing for the G League Ignite, facing future and former NBA players.
All in preparation for this week.
His high school coach and mentor Greg Lockridge told Nix when they met that he would someday become a McDonald’s All-American and NBA player.
“It was a great race,” Lockridge said of the draft. “(I’ll) try not to cry too much, but when you know her journey, you can’t help but be emotional.”
Become a pro
Nix moved with his family to Las Vegas before high school as an unknown parent in hopes of becoming a better basketball player. He thrived in four years under Lockridge, fulfilling his prophecy last year by securing scholarship offers from the nation’s top college programs and becoming a McDonald’s All-American.
He was set to play for UCLA, having signed a national letter of intent ahead of his senior season at Trinity. But the G League arrived in the spring. So he moved to the Bay Area to train with Ignite amid the doldrums of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I weighed the options. The pros and cons. … There were more opportunities for the G League, ”Nix said, explaining that he didn’t regret getting around the Bruins. “The difference was the experience of the NBA. The people I used to play with. The coaches. That’s really what made me change my mind.
With little to do, Nix trained and returned home. Trained and returned home, until the G League in February finally started playing in a bubble setting in Orlando.
In 15 games, he averaged 8.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists while shooting 38.4% from the ground and 17.6% from the 3-point range as he s ‘struggled to keep pace with the professional game.
He showed off his size, strength and odd take on the pitch as a passer while running the point. But he struggled to shoot from the perimeter and wasn’t as explosive as usual playing 245 pounds.
“There were times in the bubble where I really didn’t have confidence in my jump shot,” he said. “I really didn’t shoot the ball the way I should have.”
Nix said NBA teams told him so, and he returned to Las Vegas vowed to refine his sweater and chisel his physique. In preparation for the draft, Nix trained three times a day, six days a week, devoting two workouts to skills development and one to fitness.
He changed his diet and quickly lost 20 pounds. “Lots more veg,” he says, “and just keeping a regular meal plan.” He’s also attempted thousands upon thousands of jumpers, simulating NBA actions under the tutelage of acclaimed player development coach Joe Abunassar and his team at Impact Basketball.
“He started to understand that it was a way of life,” said Abunassar. “His whole day was spent training and then whatever time he had he used it. It’s a big change in his mentality and his approach to the profession of pro. … It consumed his life. It wasn’t something he was doing next to. It became “This is what I do. “
Abunassar also stated that Nix is “10 times” more confident as a shooter now than he was in April when he started training for the Impact. He traveled the country last month to train for NBA teams – Detroit, Houston, Atlanta, New Orleans, Chicago, Dallas, Boston, Golden State and Toronto, to name a few. .
He said he felt like he was shooting the ball better and better with each training session.
Most laugh at Nix as a second-round pick, but he says he doesn’t pay it much attention. “It’s someone else’s opinion,” he said. “I know the (teams) I worked for. I know how they feel about me.
“At some point, they’ll say he was the draft class thief,” Lockridge said. “It’s a process. It takes time.”