Jersey number 33

Not every LDS high school basketball player who aspires to play in college will be able to play at BYU, or even at any Division I school for that matter. So when a former Cougar basketball player has a son who is being given that same exact opportunity, life can sometimes seem magical.

BYU head coach Dave Rose has done a fantastic job of recruiting. He's secured commitments from recruits like Jake Toolson and T.J. Haws, and there is a chance that BYU could land highly ranked players like Payton Dastrup and Brekkott Chapman.

Rose also has a commit from Orem High School's Dalton Nixon, the son of former Cougar basketball player Kevin Nixon.

"Coach Rose and his entire staff have done a great job of recruiting and in bringing in some really good guys like the Lone Peak guys and others," said Dalton. "I'm really excited to be on the same team as those guys, and so I think what we've got going in the future at BYU will be special."

Kevin, who coaches up at Orem High School, agrees that Coach Rose is doing a fantastic job of recruiting and building his program.

"The kids love him and he just wants to win," said Kevin. "He knows talent and understands what type of kids [he needs] to help get him to the next level. He's put together a couple of amazing recruiting classes in a row. I know the Cougar nation is excited to see what's going to happen. I think we're in for a real treat in about three or four years. It's going to be a lot of fun."

Kevin did some remarkable things while playing basketball at BYU. His incredible half-court buzzer-beater against UTEP won the 1992 WAC Tournament for the Cougars. Now his son will get to follow in his footsteps.

"It's a dream come true for me, really," said Kevin. "Ever since he was little it was always my dream for him to play at BYU. It's a church school and just kind of having him follow me is really a dream come true for me. When he was first getting recruited, and I realized he was good enough for him to play at the next level, I'm obviously pulling for BYU. I made a conscious effort to just let him go through the recruiting process himself. I wanted him to talk to the coaches and let him go through what he wanted and liked in the different schools. In the end it just goes back to the roots."

The possibility of Dalton playing at BYU was something both he and his father thought about for years.

"I remember walking out of the Marriot Center after a game or a practice – I can't remember which one it was – and he looked up at me and said, ‘Dad, do you ever think I'll play here some day?'" Kevin said with a fond tone in his voice as he reflected back. "You know, I remember thinking at times, ‘Man, I hope he is good enough to play here, and I hope he wants to play here someday.' For him to get to that age where he now wants to really play here at BYU and be a part of this experience really is a dream come true for me. I've loved every minute of this experience."

But there had to be more than just a dream; there had to be desire. And it's easy to think that much of Dalton's desire and skill development came from having a former BYU Cougar basketball player as a father. However, there is more that has gone into the recipe that's led to Dalton's personal success and BYU scholarship. It all started with his mother Stephanie.

"My wife played college basketball as well, and he's had uncles that played, so he's been around basketball his whole life," said Kevin about Dalton. "Then it's been fun for me because mom has helped me out so much. There was a time when I traveled quite a bit for work. For about six years in fact I was gone quite a bit during the week, so she was the one taking him to practices. In fact, she was the one that coached him for a little bit. I coached him since he was little in a lot different capacities, but my wife has helped out a lot."

"I think in the early years, my mom should get most of the credit," said Dalton. "Yeah, my mom played a huge part in developing my game when I was younger."

Stephanie got the desire going early and helped hone Dalton's game. Later, Kevin would take over as Dalton began attending Orem High School.

"Ever since around the ninth grade, that's when my dad started playing a bigger role in coaching me," said Dalton. "He coaches my AAU team now and coaches at Orem, so he's played a big part in my life as a basketball player, but it was later on."

While Kevin takes personal pride in his son's own personal endeavor, which resulted in a BYU basketball scholarship, he should be given some credit. But Kevin would rather deflect such praise and place it squarely at the feet of his wife and son.

"Dalton would probably give me most of the credit, but I'll be honest with you, the kid's just been drawn to basketball, and he's always wanted to get better and be the best," said Kevin. "I don't remember a time when I had to say, ‘Hey Dalton, you know, you need to get in a gym.' He's always the one pulling me to the gym, you know? And to me that's been fun because I've never once felt like I was trying to make him do something he didn't want to do.

"At times it was like, ‘Dalton, really? We just came from the gym. We were there this morning and I'm tired and don't want to go to the gym.' Then I get to thinking, ‘Man, how can I not take this kid to the gym?' I just give him the credit because everything he's accomplished and everything he's been given has come through his determination and because of how hard he's worked. It's been fun."

And that sprouting desire can more than likely be traced back to the seeds planted by Stephanie.

Naturally, the Nixon family is quite proud of Dalton.

"Yeah, ever since I committed there's been a lot of excitement around my family looking forward to me going to BYU," said Dalton. "Everyone is excited about me going to BYU and playing where my dad played."

With Kevin having played for BYU and Dalton now about to do the same, their unique experience has bonded them closer together as father and son.

"Oh yeah, it really has, and me and my dad have talked about things," said Dalton. "We've talked about hopefully me being able to wear the number 33 jersey so I could play in the same number as him. We've had our times where we've talked about that together and it's really cool."

Right now Nate Austin wears the number 33 jersey, so had Dalton come to BYU first prior to serving a mission, that dream would never have come to fruition. However, the new mission rules allowing young men to serve at age 18 will now change all that.

"It's a little interesting," Dalton said. "Had I played a year before the new mission announcement I would have been on the team with Nate Austin. He would have been a senior and I would have been a freshman, but now with me going straight on a mission, Nate Austin will have graduated, which opens up the number 33 jersey for me."

Dalton has made sure to reserve his desired jersey number.

"I spoke to Coach Rose about it and yup, the number 33 jersey is mine," said a happy Dalton. "That's a pretty neat thing."


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