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Niles North's Malachi Nix drives on Deerfield's Patrick Burns during the boys basketball game on Friday January 11, 2013 in Skokie. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Malachi Nix is arguably the most decorated basketball player in the history of Niles North, but three years ago he was the typical freshman, quiet and cautious.
“My game has developed since my freshman year so much,” he said. “As a freshman, I was nervous and just looked to get the ball around.
“Now I’m expected to be a leader first and I have to score more, facilitate for others, rebound and not forget about the intangibles,” Nix said.
He has passed the test with flying colors.
Nix is the ideal high school point guard who has expanded and diversified his game considerably since his arrival at the Skokie school. His dream season continued last week when he scored 20 points to help the No. 13 Vikings become the first Central Suburban North team to go undefeated in conference play since the Jon Scheyer-led Glenbrook North 2005-06 Class AA state championship team.
He punctuated the great week with a career individual performance when he scored 18 of his career-high 44 points in the fourth quarter of the Vikings’ 84-80 victory over Morton in the Conference Classic Challenge at Gordon Tech.
For his accomplishments, Malachi Nix is the Chicago Sun-Times’ Athlete of the Week.
Nix converted 20 of 21 free throws against the Mustangs Sunday. He also excelled in other areas of the game, including recording six rebounds. The most important was an offensive rebound that yielded a three-point play that ignited a game-changing 13-4 Vikings’ run to start the fourth quarter.
“Half of rebounding is toughness, and you have to have some toughness about you,” Nix said. “You can’t be scared going up against bigger guys.”
With his 44-point explosion, Nix is now avering 19.6 points a game. He is the school’s career-leader in both points and steals. Nix embodies the notion that guards dominate the high school game, especially 5-8 point guards like him. “There are not a lot of things this kid can’t do,” said Niles North coach Glenn Olson, who took over the Vikings’ program during Nix’s freshman season.
“In high school it’s great when you have point guards that can score,” Olson said. “We love the fact that he can score and he has the ball in his hands so much, because he draws a lot of attention.”
At the start of his career Nix was a complimentary player at the program dominated by Abdul Nader, who now plays at Northern Illinois.
“I learned a lot of things by playing with Abdul, like learning how to deal with pressure, and also understanding about going out and dominating when it is time, but also just the idea of going out there and play your game and let it come to you.
“My outside shooting has improved, and it spreads defenses out and that gets my teammates involved, especially since teams are so keyed on me,” he said.
Most impressive of all are the victories. Since joining the team four years ago, Nix has helped Niles North post 81 victories. The Vikings have had two twenty-win seasons in the last 25 years before Nix started at the school.
Nix has gained recruiting interest from Division I, Division II and Division III programs. Northern Illinois, Wisconsin-Green Bay, SIU-Edwards, Wayne State, Augustana.
Niles North is the No. 4 seed at the Glenbrook North Class 4A sectional. Nix is focused as his storied career draws to a close.
“Hopefully my best memory is yet to come,” he said.