Boys’ basketball: Dalton Nixon hopes to finish Orem career on high note
Boys’ basketball • Tigers forward hoping for deep playoff run in final season.
Published: February 15, 2014 09:21PM
Updated: February 8, 2014 10:12PM
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Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune Orem's Dalton Nixon dunks the ball, in prep basketball action in the Great Western Shootout Showcase final game, Orem vs. Lone Peak, at Orem High School, Saturday, December 7, 2013.

Orem • Practice has ended and his teammates have left, but Orem forward Dalton Nixon sits on the edge of the bleachers, his head propped up by his arms resting on his knees. The memories he’s created in this gym the last four years echo in his mind.

The star forward knows that the opportunities to make new memories here diminish with each passing day. There is less than a month left in his high school career. He leans back and reflects on that reality.

“This is what he knows,” said Kevin Nixon, his father. “This is four years of his life. That coming to an end is bittersweet. You look back at a lot of great memories.”

Nixon had become the school’s all-time leading scorer in a win over Corner Canyon two days earlier. It was another highlight in an illustrious career that has seen him become one of the state’s top recruits. And it cemented his legacy as one of the best players ever to come through Orem.

But more than all of that, it was another reminder that he’d done everything he’d set out to do four years ago when his varsity career began.

“My ultimate goal coming into high school was to win a state championship,” Nixon said. “My sophomore year, we did that and it was the highlight of my career. Individually, I feel like I’ve done the things to help my team have successful seasons and that’s what I’m proud of.”

Though Nixon has tasted the highest level of success in high school, there also have been disappointments. There was the first-round exit in last year’s playoffs. And there is the middling 11-8 record the Tigers have put up this season while enduring what coach Golden Holt calls the toughest schedule in school history.

But while those struggles have brought frustration, Kevin Nixon has encouraged his son to soak in the ride of high school basketball. Kevin Nixon played at BYU before a professional career overseas, and he knows how special the end of a high school career can be.

“I’ve wanted him to focus on the journey, enjoying it,” Kevin Nixon said. “When you win as a sophomore, you think you’re just going to win the next two. But there’s great teams out there and a lot goes into a state championship.”

Dalton Nixon insists he is keeping everything in perspective as his high school career winds down. He is excited for the future, when he will follow in his father’s footsteps at BYU, which has long been a dream. But he knows there still are a few memories to be made over the next month.

The Tigers will try to capitalize on the talent that had them among the Class 4A favorites in the preseason. Nixon believes a run deep into the state tournament is possible, and that would be a storybook finish to his four years at Orem.

“It’s a little bittersweet right now, but I’m putting all my focus and time into this last month,” he said. “I figure if I give it all I’ve got, I can leave here with no regrets.”

bbrown@sltrib.com

Twitter: @BubbaSLTrib

About Dalton Nixon

Height • 6-foot-6

Position • Forward

Class • Senior

Points per game by season • Senior: 22.4; Junior: 17.7; Sophomore: 12.4

Notable • Committed to BYU, where his father played. … Career points leader at Orem. … Hoping to lead a resurgence for the Tigers, who have struggled at times this season.