Larue is militant about hoops

Cayman basketball has seen many star players leave these shores in an effort to raise their game. The latest to do so is Larue Nixon.

The son of Latasha and Larue Nixon Senior started his second semester at Riverside Military Academy this week. The private boarding school, which serves as a college prepatory, is located in Gainesville, Georgia. Nixon has been at the school since last August and has quickly made an impact on the institution’s basketball squads.

Nixon, 17, is the starting guard for the junior varsity side and is a bench player for the varsity team. So far he has put up good numbers averaging 12 points, five assists, three blocks and two steals for the Eagles. The sophomore states in addition to his on-court exploits he has held his own in the classroom.

“I’ve been at school in Georgia the last five months,” Nixon said. “The way they explain things to you it’s easy to get As and Bs so that’s what I’m getting. I’m in grade 10 and we’re focusing on Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Tests. Once I get to grade 11 I’ll be doing the SAT and filling out college applications.

“It has been working out OK. The first couple months were rough as I felt home-sick. But I got used to it.”

The George Town native is best known for performances in the youth ranks of local basketball. He played in the Under-19 and the U16 competitions in years past, consistently ranking among the league’s best in scoring and defence. Nixon is quick to say the biggest difference between Cayman hoops and the level he is facing abroad is the stress placed on the players.

“Playing on the school teams is a better experience in my opinion because it’s a lot harder than Cayman. It’s way different. The practices are hard. You’re playing with people that can dunk in many different ways. It’s just a whole different level of basketball.

“Right now I’m at the mid-way part of the season as a JV starter and varsity sixth man. My classes started on Monday and our big tournament is coming up in mid-February. We’ll be playing schools all over Georgia and then the US.”

Nixon was here over the Christmas holidays and returned to the States last weekend. His next game is this Saturday against Dawson County High with three matches on tap starting next week Tuesday. Nixon states he will not be back in Cayman for a few months. At that time he plans to relax, seek part-time work and get back into local basketball.

“I’m coming back in May for the summer months. I’m going to try to make the men’s national team and work out to stay in shape. I’d also like to get a part-time job and get some funds for school.”

Currently the biggest event ongoing in local hoops is the Appleby U19 Basketball League. The last regular season matches take place this week in Grand Cayman. Nixon, who was slated to play for the defending champions Shockwaves of JML International Ltd (who feature star player Rashaad Powery-Saunds) before Christmas, states based on what he has seen the Wolves are the team to beat.

“I was supposed to play a game or two for Shockwaves but that didn’t happen. I heard the Wolves were dominant and they only lost one game to the Reapers. I must say the Wolves got a lot of weapons and chances are it will be Wolves versus Shockwaves in the finals. Then again the Reapers have a chance with Jamaal (Miller) as their star player.”

Interestingly Nixon’s sister La-Torae is also part of the league. Her Sparks team head into next week’s playoffs as the top side in the girls division with only one loss on their record. La-Torae, 13, is a strong candidate for the Most Valuable Player award. She ended the regular season campaign as the league’s leading scorer and rebounder (averaging 25.7 points and 20.7 rebounds per game) and the second-best passer (she averaged 4.3 assists per contest).

Nixon has two other siblings in six-year-old Thiy-ru and eight-year-old Taejah-rae and states that though La-Torae’s skills are inspiring they do promote a mild sibling rivalry.

“All of her achievements inspire me to play harder and be better in basketball. I try to keep up with her victories and successes. For example if I see on the statistics sheet that she scored 20 points in a game I want to go out and drop 20 in my next game. I cannot outdo her but I’d like to keep pace.

“Who’s better out of the two of us? It’s me of course. I taught La-Torae everything I know so to me she has to do well. La-Torae is a real good player. However certain basic skills she needs to work on like setting a pick. Once she learns those skills she’ll be nearly unstoppable.”

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Miller is the star player for the Reapers. – PHOTOS: MATTHEW YATES
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