Going into the 2014 offseason, Coach Dave Rose had 14 scholarship players to fit into 13 scholarship spots. Then, Matt Carlino transferred to Marquette. At the time, BYU signee Dalton Nixon reacted thusly:
At this point, it was expected that Nixon would venture on a church mission before taking the court for the Cougars; however, two short months later, the 6’7″ 225 son of the man who crushed UTEP’s dreams in 1992 would bump the roster back to 14 with this news:
A few days after this announcement, Dalton Nixon discussed his decision and his future on BYU Sports Nation.
Given the full roster, Nixon will pay his own way at BYU and walk-on to the basketball team. With the departure of Eric Mika, the December eligibility of Jamal Aytes, and the presence of otherwise unproven players in the frontcourt, Nixon will have the opportunity to see the floor this season.
What a difference a year makes. Last year, BYU had try outs to fill out their roster. This year, they have scholarship players walking on. It’s weird calling Dalton Nixon and Jake Toolson walk-ons. They are denotative walk-ons, but not connotative walk-ons. Not even close.
At Orem High School
Dalton Nixon stands as the leading scorer in Orem High School history. He surpassed BYU alumnus Craig Cusick in the record books by approximately 140 points to seize the all-time honor.
Nixon helped his team win the Utah 4A state championship as a sophomore; he garnered MVP honors for that run to the title. As a senior, Dalton led the Tigers to another appearance in the state championship game, a heartbreaking 44-43 defeat. Although Nixon was able to force a game-changing turnover to give the Tigers an opportunity to win, he missed both free throws on the ensuing offensive possession.
The silver lining in it all – Dalton Nixon has a fighting spirit and the will to win. Not only did he force the turnover with 12 seconds left, he pulled down a crucial offensive rebound before drawing the foul on that final possession. Overall, Nixon had a phenomenal senior year, as he averaged 20 points and 9 rebounds.
Impact at BYU
Theoretically, Nixon finds himself in a sweet spot. He has good size, he can shoot the ball well, and he can rebound the ball; in simple terms, one could label him as a stretch four. In my estimation, not since Jonathan Tavernari has BYU had someone with size who could stretch the defense all the way to the perimeter, as well as tangle inside. Nixon has a unique opportunity to prove his value as a stretch four. Last season, teams packed the lane and shut down BYU’s offense at times. If Matt Carlino wasn’t hitting the deep ball, defenses had no reason to extend to the perimeter. The gameplan was simple: shadow Tyler Haws and pack the lane. Pulling a defensive big out to the perimeter could do wonders for guys like Kyle Collinsworth and Frank Bartley who like to attack the basket with the magnitude of a thousand fiery suns.
All in all, October will indeed be an interesting month. BYU has 16 players competing for spots in Coach Rose’s rotation. Not all 16 can play. In fact, most college teams play 8 to 10 guys each game. Even then, the ninth and tenth players tend to receive minimal minutes. Spots are up for grabs, and Nixon, because of his position and skill set, has a slight advantage; however, as we all know, the best players are the ones who see the court. Dalton will have to bring his lunch pail and work for those minutes, regardless of any advantage.