Sure, Daishen Nix might not know where he got his first name from or if it even holds any special meaning, but does that mean you shouldn’t know it?
Though the current member of NBA G League Ignite played high school ball in Las Vegas, Nix grew up and was born in Anchorage, Alaska (yes, Alaska). Not only did he come to the mainland to put his name on the map professionally, he’s also here to prove that the basketball scene out in Alaska is legit.
“I think [basketball in Alaska is] underrated, underrated a lot,” Nix said. “Since we’re close to Canada all the way up there, people think we can’t compete with anybody. But, there’s actually a few players there that I compete with, that can’t compete with players in Alaska.”
The 18-year-old has already made waves throughout his young career. In Nix’s last three years at Trinity International High School, he helped lead the Thunder to three consecutive division titles. In doing so, ESPN slated him No. 21 overall prospect in the class of 2020.
2020 NCSAA Boys Division I Champions – 3rd yr in row! Boys played some great teams & together they triumphed. Proud of them all! #trusttheprocess @thegrindsession @valerieinvegas @djfromveg @MinaTupuola @Gwlock pic.twitter.com/sabZQrAMCA
— TIS/SFBA (@SimplyFunBball) March 7, 2020
Nix has the opportunity to become the second NBA player born in Alaska, alongside former Miami Heat and Memphis Grizzlies guard Mario Chalmers, who was also born in Anchorage. He’s already putting work in to make that more of a possibility, thanks in-part to some veterans that have joined the squad.
The Veteran Connection
Led by head coach Brian Shaw, Team Ignite hasn’t only brought in some of the most promising young talent out of high school, but it’s paired them with G League and NBA-veteran leadership that should serve the prospects well. Of all the veterans that have given Nix and the group advice so far, one piece that has stood out so far for him is from the man they call “Uncle Regg.”
That would be 29-year-old Reggie Hearn.
“I think the one that stands out is Reggie Hearn, he told me to be myself and don’t try to be somebody else I’m not,” Nix said. “[I’ve been] just learning the system, building team chemistry and bonding with everybody here… my jump shot has gotten better, my lateral movement, defense has gotten better. Just learning from everybody else on the court on what their pros and cons are,” Nix said.
— NBA G League (@nbagleague) January 20, 2021
When asked about the impact that guys like Hearn, Amir Johnson, Brandon Ashley, Cody Demps, Bobby Brown and newly-added Jarret Jack and Donta Hall have already had on Nix and the younger players, Shaw has found their mix of experience to be a perfect fit.
“I think it’s a symbiotic relationship,” Shaw said. “The young guys push the vets. The vets teach the young guys, show them all the tricks of the trade. So, it’s a nice exchange that goes on and I’m fortunate to have such a great group of guys. Not just our young guys, but our vets. They are very professional and they have embraced their positions as mentors for these young guys.”
Shaw was able to give the team an idea as to how the upcoming single-site season – much like what the NBA had done to complete its 2019-20 season – would work for them. Ignite was able to experience some of the NBA’s single-site action themselves.
“We’re not going to complain about it, we’re just going to adjust to it and do whatever has to be done,” Shaw said. “I think a perfect example was they (Ignite) got to see the [NBA] teams that went into the bubble, and they were there for a long time. They adhered to the protocol. They played through their whole playoffs and everything without having a positive test because they did what was called upon them to do as professionals. So, they kind of laid the groundwork for us and so far, it’s been good.”
Here to stay
Though getting some Warzone wins and beating teammates in 2K do count as victories for Nix, his top personal accomplishment during camp was the simple fact that he stuck with it all, during the ups and downs. And even though he may come off as shy, he’s been anything but that on the court.
“I’ve become a better leader here,” Nix said. “The veterans have been teaching me everything I want to learn. I’ve been asking questions from [Shaw], all the way down to coach [Chris] Farr. Being able to stay here. Having the mindset of ‘I want to get better, I want to stay here and not give up.’”