DETROIT - Michigan State picked up a diamond in the rough when they got a verbal commitment from Detroit Pershing star Derrick Nix earlier this week.
Nix's stock had been rising in both the PSL ranks and on the AAU circuit. GSN profiled Nix when he was a 300-pound sophomore with unusual ability to score despite his size.
He would always hear from observers and scouts who told him he could be a Division I prospect if he worked hard and dropped some weight.
That's exactly what he did.
Nix started running, working out and changed his diet. Soon, the pounds started dropping and his status began rising.
"I'm working out, running and keeping up my conditioning," said Nix of his daily exercise regimine. "I don't eat anything after 9 o'clock. Then I get up and do some more running."
The work has paid off.
Nix said it was the realization of a dream for him when MSU Coach Tom Izzo called him after his performance at last weekend's Boo Williams tournament to offer him a scholarship.
"State knew that's where I wanted to go and I knew that's where I wanted to go too," said Nix. "They came to see me play and they liked what I was doing as a player. Education-wise, I've gotten my grades up and everything so, when they offered me, I felt like I had to commit."
Nix admitted that he was excited to finally get the offer he was hoping for.
"I mean, it made me feel good, I was real excited," he said.
He said, despite getting the offer and making his commitment, he knows he has more work to do before showing up in East Lansing.
"I still need to work on conditioning and defense."
I asked him about the misses around the basket during the weekend of the State Championship at the Breslin Center, his future home court.
Nix was unsure of what happened, but offered a theory. "I don't know what happened that weekend, I think it was the rims, because I usually don't miss layups in a row. Some people even thought I was trying to pad my stats."
He laughed when I noted he did have 15 rebounds that game, a win against Romulus.
How did it feel when he went up against future teammate Draymond Green and how did he approach the challenge?
"Draymond is a good player, he a good dribbler, shooter, he's got good post moves, I think I can learn a lot from him."
How did he approach the challenge of playing one of the state's best players?
"At that point, I didn't care (about any of that), I was just trying to win. Whatever I can do to win, I'll do that," he said.
"I treat everybody the same, I don't show anyone more respect than any other (player)," Nix continued.
"I understand that he's a big-time player, but when I'm playing against him, I don't treat him like he's gotta be all of that. I treat everybody the same."
We also inquired why he made the switch from the Michigan Hurricanes, his previous AAU team to The Family, this season.
"I don't know, I mean it's all the same. If I would have played with the Hurricanes it would have been the same level of play but this year, I just decided to play with the Family."
Nix got a lot of play in the media after his performance over last weekend's Boo Williams tournament. He outplayed Mike Broghammer (Howard Pulley) of Minnetonka (MN) Hopkins, scoring 11 points to Broghammer's 10, but Nix was a presence inside on the glass.
A pair of heralded prospects, Royce White, who committed to Minnesota scored ten points for Pulley, while DaShonte Riley, Nix's teammate on The Family was held scoreless.
Other observers said Nix was the top big man at the event, outplaying Stephen Van Treese and Mason Crumlee (Duke).
Like many others who committed to either the Michigan State football or basketball program, he likes the family atmosphere on his AAU team and on the Spartans.
"Yeah, (Michigan State) made me feel like part of their family, I even know a few of their plays."
And regarding that nasty rumor that Coach Izzo is talking to the Chicago Bulls? Nix said he will be giving Coach Izzo a call to find out what's going on.
UpClose: With New Spartans Commit Derrick Nix
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