NIU recruit Nixon ready to take next step


Here is a flashback to Friday, Feb. 20.

About 80 miles east of NIU on the south side of Chicago, Tony Nixon, NIU’s lone Chicago-based recruit currently signed on for next season, and his No. 2 Seton Academy are taking on No. 11 Leo High School.

To say Leo’s gym is small is an understatement. Bleachers on the sides of the court are three rows deep and hug the court. Fans sitting in the front row are literally in the field of play, their feet are on the out-of-bounds line and some are on the court.

The players have no bench, sharing the bleachers with the fans. There is a second floor that looks onto the court, but that too has bleachers three rows deep.

The house was packed. To say it was standing-room-only would be a lie because there was no more room to stand.

It’s safe to say Nixon will be adjusting a bit next season.

Nixon, a 6-foot-5-inch guard/forward, committed to NIU before the season began and at least one recruiting analyst believes he could have played at a higher program if he would have let the season play out.

“I could have gone to a bigger school,” Nixon said. “But Northern was a good fit for me, and I wanted to go to a school where I can make an immediate impact and just change the program.”

Nixon chose NIU for other reasons too.

“It’s a good thing that it is close to home. I can get back to see my family and things like that, but the deciding factor basically was the coaching staff,” he said. “I have a lot of trust in them and the players also. I’m excited to play with all of them.”

Ken Stevenson, Nixon’s high school coach, believes NIU head coach Ricardo Patton is getting a great player to coach.

“Tony is a hardworking player. Tony is dedicated, smart and he’s a kid who’s very disciplined,” Stevenson said. “Coach Patton is going to get a kid that’s going to do anything he asks him to do.”

And Nixon’s experience with an elite team that plays in the competitive Chicago Catholic League is something Stevenson says is invaluable.

“We play in high-pressure situations; we play in packed gyms and we’ve been on TV,” he said. “That’s all going to help Tony when he gets to the next level. Some kids have to make that adjustment when they get to college, but Tony won’t because he’s already done it.”