PROVO — Much of what junior forward Dalton Nixon brings to the BYU basketball program can’t be measured statistically.
From setting screens to rebounding to being a leader, he does a little bit of everything. His penchant for diving for loose balls makes him a Human Floor Burn. Nixon can also shoot, pass and defend, among other things.
“Dalt’s a beast. He’s a guy you hate to play against. He brings so much to our team in terms of energy and toughness,” said junior forward Yoeli Childs. “He brings so many different elements. He can guard multiple positions. He’s a toughness guy and a glue guy for our team.”
His relentless hustle can lend itself to injury at times. Nixon suffered a season-ending shoulder injury last March, rendering him unable to play in the Cougars’ NIT game at Stanford.
After undergoing surgery and enduring rehab, Nixon returned to practice late in the summer.
“I thought it might change the way that I play,” he said of the shoulder injury. “But my shoulder feels better than ever and I’m still banging and doing the dirty work that I love to do. Instincts take over.”
Going into BYU’s fourth game of the season Thursday at the Marriott Center against Oral Roberts, Nixon averages 8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists. He tied his career-high with 15 points in the Cougars’ 82-57 home victory over Northwestern State Tuesday night.
Nixon’s role this season is similar to his other two years in the program.
“I still see it the same — someone that can bring energy and be a communicator on the court. I’ve had an opportunity in different roles to be that guy,” he said. “I want to be a threat offensively, of course, to open it up for Yoeli and TJ (Haws) and our other shooters. But I really try to play as hard as I can with the opportunities I’m given on the floor.”
Coach Dave Rose is happy to have Nixon’s work ethic and versatility in the program.
“Dalton’s one of those guys where you know he’s going to put time in the gym. His game’s really expanded. He’s a lot more diverse,” he said. “But we’re going to rely on Dalton to guard some really big guys. We don’t have a lot of size and Yo can’t guard them all and Luke (Worthington) can’t guard them all. Dalt’s going to be a guy we’ll really depend on.”
Nixon, who missed some time early last season with a foot injury, worked hard during the offseason to get healthy again.
“I had shoulder surgery the day before our NIT game at Stanford. It was a long spring and a long early summer,” he said. “I did what I could do in the gym during the summer. It’s been great to get back on the court and battle it out. I’m feeling healthy and strong and trying to stay healthy. I ran into some troubles last year but if I can be healthy, I’ll be able to contribute.”
While he helped BYU knock off Saint Mary’s in the WCC Tournament last spring, Nixon was disappointed not to play in the Cougars’ first-round NIT loss at Stanford.1 comment on this story
“It was tough to miss that game. But it had to happen. I had to have surgery. It’s more motivation for me to work harder,” Nixon said. “I wanted to get back, personally and for my team, to get back to the postseason. We want to go to the NCAA Tournament. I had that opportunity to be part of that as a freshman. For all of us, it’s a point of emphasis to get back to the tournament.”
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