Every young hooper fantasizes about making it to the NBA.
For Alaskans, it’s a dream that has been accomplished rarely, but that’s not stopping Daishen Nix from dreaming big.
“I’m just trying to make it to the NBA and then give back to Alaska," he said.
The short list of Alaskans who have made it that far is one that most Alaska basketball fans know by heart -- Mario Chalmers, Trajan Langdon and Carlos Boozer.
Maybe one day, Nix will join the list.
Nix is a 6-foot-5 point guard ranked as a five-star recruit and the 14th best player in the high school class of 2020 by 24/7 Sports.
Born in Fairbanks and raised in Anchorage, Nix was heralded as the “best passer in high school” by Ballislife.com -- social media’s most influential hoops platform, which has produced some of YouTube’s most viral highlight mixtapes, featuring the likes of Lonzo Ball, Kyrie Irving and Zion Williamson.
Nix is as much fire as he is flash. A player for Trinity International High School in Las Vegas, the electrifying junior has already racked up Division I offers from several of the nation’s most elite college programs. UCLA, Kansas and Oklahoma are just a few of the schools hoping to win the Nix lottery.
“I have at least 26 (Division I offers)." Nix said in a recent interview. “I haven’t narrowed it down, but I’ve made one visit, and that was to the University of Maryland.”
Nix last played basketball in Alaska for Mears Middle School back in the 2015-16 school year. He also played for Alaska Gold, one of Alaska’s premier AAU programs, from sixth through eighth grades.
With Alaska Gold, Nix traveled to several camps and tournaments along with Dimond’s Isaiah Moses and East’s Jaron Williams, high school stars in Anchorage’s Cook Inlet Conference.
“It’s awesome to see a guy repping AK and going out and doing big things," Moses said. “We’re all rooting for him back here.”
It was fate that brought Nix and Alaska Gold together, recalled Jesse Smith, an Alaska Gold coach for more than 20 years.
“I actually met him on an outdoor basketball court next to Dimond High School. He was just out there shooting around,” Smith said.
During the encounter, Nix and his mother, who came by to pick up Nix, learned Smith was a coach and decided to check out one of his practices.
“The first time he stopped by our practice, he didn’t like it at all. I thought I’d never see him again," Smith said. “But a few months later, he showed back up ready to work.”
Nix developed a ravenous appetite for elevating his game after his first AAU trip to Seattle as a sixth grader, when he was a raw prospect.
“He developed a work ethic where he wanted to be in a gym or on a basketball court," Smith said.
After eighth grade, Nix’s family and Smith decided that Nix needed to play high school basketball outside Alaska in order to maximize his exposure and potential. Ultimately, the family settled on Las Vegas.
“(While the decision) was mostly because of basketball, it was also because of my grandparents. The weather was messing with their health, so we decided to move here," Nix said.
Nix hasn’t been back to Alaska since May 2016. He stays connected to Alaska, however, and maintains close friendships with Williams and Kaeleb Johnson, another East player.
He’s expected to return later this year when his Trinity team comes to Alaska for Wasilla High’s annual Doc Larsen Roundball Classic tournament in December.
This month has been a big one for Nix, who attended USA Basketball’s Junior National Team April Training Camp in Minneapolis and the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland.
In Minneapolis, Nix was one of about 50 top high school players invited to a three-day camp where they played in scrimmage games, worked with college coaches and attended the NCAA’s men’s Final Four games. In Portland, he scrimmaged against USA Basketball junior national team players.
This summer he will likely receive more invitations to Team USA events. Nix hopes to make it through the selection process and land one of the coveted roster spots on the under-19 national team.
“It feels good," Nix said. "I’m just trying to put Alaska on the map. 'Cause I know everybody thinks nobody from Alaska can make it. I’m showing everybody that I’m from Alaska and I am making it.”