Many local youngsters see the US as a place to pursue their basketball dreams. The latest is Avondre Nixon.
Nixon, 16, will be attending Princeton Day Academy in Lanham, Maryland this year. The institution has a reputation for placing children in top basketball universities.
That fact is paramount for the born and raised George Town native, who states his goals are to be a professional.
“Cayman basketball is not bad but it needs improvement,” Nixon said. “Just going over there and getting better are big achievements for me. Basketball is important to me. It’s something I think of everyday. I would love to play college ball. My expectations are high because I want to go the National Basketball Association.”
Nixon, who turns 17 in December, has been playing basketball for roughly eight years since primary school. He has taken part in all of the youth basketball programmes on offer, most notably the Kings Sports Centre initiative, the PWC U16 and the Appleby U19 leagues.
The son of Algon Nixon and Maria DaCosta is well aware of the challenges he will encounter attending high school overseas. Aside from the differences on the court, he will need to adjust to life away from home and a different climate among other things. Nixon states those issues do not bother him at the moment.
“I’m not nervous about all of that stuff. I went to Boston last year and that went pretty good. I thought for example that I’d love the snow but when it hits you, it’s not enjoyable. All in all I’m not worried. I think things will work themselves out.
“The coach at Princeton spoke to my parents already and I know I have two more years left of high school over there. Education is the number one thing and basketball is second. Going away is about making a better life for myself.”
Mum Maria states she is not suprised that Avondre has lofty dreams in basketball.
“Avondre grew up watching his dad play basketball and so I wasn’t very surprised when he almost immediately took to the sport,” DaCosta said. “It has helped him to be a disciplined and positive young man and I think he’s a really good player. He works hard, trains almost daily and he always stays positive about his games.
“As Avondre’s mum, I know it will not be easy letting him go away so far. But I am confident that he will take advantage of this great opportunity and gain all the experience and knowedge he can. I am extremely proud of my son for all of his achievements. He has worked hard and I feel he is really deserving of this. It’s such a great opportunity for him being able to attend school abroad and he is a very ambitious young man with a positive attitude. This experience will prepare him academically as well as mentally for college and having the exposure will help him enhance his talent.
“He has a true love for the game, playing and watching the sport. I am proud for all these youngsters, I pray for and wish them all the best. I know they will all make Cayman proud.”
Interestingly Nixon, who has a step-father in Robert DaCosta and three sisters in Avannah Nixon, Alexandra and Erin DaCosta, is not making the Princeton leap on his own. Joining him is prodigy Jamaal Miller, 17, who has taken his district of Bodden Town to great heights in the U16 and U19 competitions in the last two years.
A group of young players went to Maryland over the weekend to check out Princeton in Jace Ebanks, Peter Grant, Rivers Anthony, Amber Watson and Ricardo Ebanks. For the record it is not clear which of those youngsters will eventually enrol there. In any case Nixon feels it can be the start of tradition.
“I think it is a big step. I hope it’s not just us. Hopefully they (the Cayman Islands Basketball Association) send more kids off and they’re able to keep this going.”