From Left Behind to the Center of Attention Michigan State's Derrick Nix Is Getting Better Everyday!


A year ago, Derrick Nix’s basketball career was uncertain. He was left home during the holiday season while his teammates played in Maui. Nix ultimately decided to stay at MSU and plodded through the remaining 2010 season overweight and underutilized.

 What a difference a year makes. Nix has been praised for his commitment to conditioning. He has lost more than 20 pounds and gotten himself in game shape checking in less than 270 pounds. He has worked tirelessly on his low-post game. He runs the floor well for a man of his size and he is now the most complete true post player on the MSU roster.

 Nix is “open” every time he sees the ball in the low post. His Zach Randolph like body, eats ups the area around the goal and his feet are exceptional. Nix moves his feet like a man half his size and he is decisive with the ball in scoring position.  He isn’t afraid to post up left or right and often catches defenders out of position with his left handed delivery.

Nix was the difference against Indiana. The Hoosiers had no answer for him. Every time he touched the ball, he either made a strong move to the basket or delivered the right pass at the right time. He is truly indefensible when he catches the ball at point blank range; MSU needs to feed the big man until someone figures out how to stop him.

Appling is going to keep defenses honest with his ability to get to the goal. This gives MSU’s interior players an opportunity to shine rebounding missed baskets and cleaning up the garbage. Nix could be MSU’s most consistent offensive threat. Yes, you heard that right… he could be MSU’s most consistent offensive threat and could average double figures if Green continues to find him and Derrick makes rebounding his religion.

There have been a number of players over the course of their MSU career that have been special. You want to root for them because of the way their lives have gone or because of the adversity they have faced. Nix is the guy I pull for every time he steps on the court. His teddy bear nature and soft smile strike a chord with me and admittedly, I jump up and down every time he scores or makes a big play. I don’t think I’m alone.

We hear rumblings of Nix the leader. He looks in control when he is on the floor. He looks like he is having fun when he plays the game and he acts like a man instead of the former playground boy who was out of place. Maybe he needed to go through this maturation process. Whatever changes occurred this off-season, it made Nix a better basketball player, a better teammate and better man.

I hope that Derrick’s success continues. He might be the best pro prospect on the roster outside of Branden Dawson. There is no substitute for size, soft hands and nifty feet. If Nix continues to work on his game and his manhood, he may have a long career playing basketball. Whatever Nix chooses to do beyond his years at MSU, his commitment to his teammates and the sport he plays will certainly impact him throughout his life. I am proud to be an unabashed Derrick Nix fan. He is proof that hard work coupled with the right attitude can overcome just about anything.

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