While most of the high school and college basketball world is centered at Peach Jam this week, one of the top players in America – and one of Kentucky’s top targets – was playing in a small high school gym, in front of a small contingent of big-time college coaches Thursday night right outside Los Angeles.
His name is Daishen Nix, a player believed – by most major recruiting services – to be the top-ranked point guard in America. Rivals.com and 247 Sports both have Nix ranked as a Top 15 player nationally as well.
And the 6’4 Nix was the center of attention at the Pangos Elite 80 event on Thursday, with a handful of college basketball’s biggest name coaches standing courtside for his game. Among them were UCLA’s Mick Cronin, Alabama’s Nate Oats and Washington’s Mike Hopkins, as well an assistant coach from Maryland. The University of Kentucky, a school which Nix has spoken highly of in the past, was not represented, although they are actively recruiting Nix as one of their top point guard targets in the 2020 class.
If you’re not totally familiar with Nix’s name it’s completely understandable, as to date, his recruitment has been relatively quiet. As previously documented by KSR, Nix’s recruitment has blown up over the last year or so after a big summer in 2018, and Kentucky first reached out to express interest in April when they visited him in his new home of Las Vegas (he is originally from Alaska). To date, he has yet to take an official visit, and has only taken two unofficial visits, to West Coast schools UCLA and Arizona State.
That will likely change though in the coming months, as Nix said that the plan is to ramp up the visit schedule around the start of the school year. The expectation is that Lexington will be one of the stops on the 6’4 guard’s itinerary.
“I plan on visiting the four schools that were here tonight [UCLA, Alabama, Washington and Maryland],” Nix said Thursday. “Plus, Kentucky and maybe Kansas.”
Yet even with the visit, don’t expect an announcement from Nix any time soon. Like so many elite high school players these days, Nix plans to wait until the spring (or possibly even the end of his senior year) to announce his college decision, to see what everyone’s roster looks like heading into his freshman season. In other words, the success of Ashton Hagans and Tyrese Maxey could play a role in whether Nix ends up in Lexington or not. If it looks like both could be gone from Lexington in 2020-2021, that could be advantage Kentucky. If one (or in a shocking turn of events, both) look like they’ll be back, it could be a hinderance.
Talked to Daishen Nix last night, and asked him if distance from the West Coast would be a factor in his recruitment. His answer: "My mom wants me to go wherever I'm happy." One, that was a totally refreshing answer. Two, that's good news for Alabama, Kentucky + Maryland
— Aaron Torres (@Aaron_Torres) July 12, 2019
So that could be a disadvantage, but there two things working in Kentucky’s favor when it comes to Nix’s recruitment.
The first, is that he said that one of the keys in his decision (beyond what the roster looks like) is how the school develops point guards, and it’s something he’s certainly noticed at Kentucky. “There are a lot of guards coming from there,” Nix said of Kentucky and John Calipari’s program.
The other thing which could be advantage Kentucky (or Alabama or Maryland): Nix said that the location of a school won’t be a factor. Despite growing up in Alaska and moving to Las Vegas, he isn’t limiting his choices to only West Coast schools. But instead, what’s the best fit.
“My mom just wants me to play wherever it’s going to make me happy,” Nix said.
That could be a good sign for Kentucky as they pursue the top-ranked point guard in the 2020 recruiting class.