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Skokie, 01/18/13-- Malachi Nix (2) of Niles North takes a shot over the much taller An Su (40) from Glenbrook North high school during their game Friday night. Adam Alexander~For Sun-Times Media
Not many would debate senior Malachi Nix’s place in Niles North boys basketball history.
In his four seasons on varsity, the 5-8 point guard has been instrumental in turning the Vikings into a major player on the Chicagoland basketball scene, helping Niles North to its first-ever sectional championship in 2011 and another trip to the sectional final last season.
Nix is on schedule to soon become the school’s all-time leading scorer. Heading into Froday night's game, he needs six points to unseat Nick Williams, a 2006 graduate who scored 1,302 points, for the record. Nix already owns program marks for career wins and steals.
“The one thing I saw in him early on was his love for the game,” said Niles North coach Glenn Olson. “He’s someone who is really invested in the sport. Add that to his talent and athletic ability, and I knew he had a chance to do something special here.”
Olson compared Nix to Nuse Khan, who played for Olson at Maine East and is now a junior guard at Missouri S&T.
As a freshman and sophomore, Nix played a supporting role to team leaders, such as Abdel Nader, now at Northern Illinois. In his second full season the Vikings beat Schaumburg 53-52 for the sectional title.
Nix proved he can play a starring role last year when he led the team back to the sectional final. That’s where the season ended with a 62-42 loss to Evanston.
“I feel like I’ve had a pretty good, not great, career,” Nix said. “I’m very proud to have been part of those two seasons, and it’s been a great ride.
“It’s not over yet.”
Not by a long shot, if Niles North, ranked No. 13 by the Sun-Times, has its way. The Vikings went 3-0 over the weekend, including a 62-57 win over Glenbrook North on Friday, to enter this week 16-3 overall and 6-0 in the CSL North.
Nix scored a game-best 20 points in the win over the Spartans. His long-range 3-pointer in the final two minutes sent the Vikings to the victory.
Glenbrook North junior Ethan Lutz, whose 3-pointer on the previous possession put the Spartans in position to make a run, made sure to point out the importance of Nix’s shot.
“That sealed it for them,” Lutz said. “That was a big shot. I hope I can be someone who makes those shots for my team.”
As good as he was early in his career, Olson said Nix never wasted the opportunity to advance his game to the next level.
“He’s developed in every aspect of the game,” said Olson, who became Niles North’s coach before the 2009-10 season. “He’s a much better ball-handler and shooter now. He has that ability to hit tough shots off the dribble and finish at the rim, which was something he struggled with as a freshman and sophomore.”
Defense has been a strength this season with Nix often asked to match up against an opponent’s best guard. So far, he’s been tasked with keeping up with Loyola junior sharpshooter Jack Morrissey and Notre Dame senior Matt Mooney, who will play at Air Force.
“He’s an intelligent defender, and that’s why he gets those tough assignments,” Olson said. “He’s really taken pride in doing that.”
Although his recruitment has been slow, Nix, who said he has an offer from Chicago State, continues to attract attention from colleges. Olson said coaches from Northern Illinois were at Friday’s game.
“He’s going to be a good college player,” Olson said. “He just has that will to win, and that’s what coaches are seeing. He sets the tone for our team.”
Nix said he wouldn’t be where he is today without Olson by his side. The two will forever be linked for lifting the program out of obscurity.
“He’s not going to admit it, but he’s the reason,” Nix said. “He has the formula. There’s nothing like this without him.”
Added Olson: “One thing Malachi and I share in common is we are very competitive people. We have that drive to be successful. There’s as much respect on my end for him as he has for me.”