When it comes to the North Carolina basketball scene, not many people know the area quite like the Capel brothers.
As Jeff and Jason Capel look to build up Pitt’s recruiting classes, home is one of the first places hat they have looked to find future Panthers. One of their targets in the area is DJ Nix, a class of 2022 small forward from Cannon School in Concord, North Carolina.
— Derrick DJ Nix (@DJNix_23) February 28, 2021
Nix is a 6-foot-6, 220 pound native of Harrisburg, North Carolina, who plays for Team Charlotte during the AAU season. With a complete skill set and excellent size, Nix is one of the most underrated prospects in his class.
“I can shoot it very well, that is probably my go-to skill all year,” Nix told Pittsburgh Sports Now. “I shot it around 50% from three this year, about 90% from the free-throw line, and over 60-70% from the field. Just shooting the ball, being able to score, that is what I do best.”
With his size, Nix is a matchup nightmare on offense and on the defensive end is able to guard both shorter and taller players at his position.
“This year for AAU I decided to play with Team Charlotte, and since I have joined their team I feel like my defense has gotten tremendously better,” he said. “I am getting lower, I’m getting blocks, and I am getting more stops on defense. I am also able to rebound it at a great rate. Really, being able to guard multiple positions, that is where I am strong on defense.”
According to 247 Sports’ Composite Rankings, Nix is a three-star prospect who is ranked No. 225 in the nation. He holds offers from Wichita State, Washington State, Boston College, Appalachian State, Auburn, and a few more smaller schools. He is also receiving interest from Pitt, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Clemson, Harvard, Yale, and Stanford.
“I just want to go to a school that really just wants me as a person,” he said. “I know what I bring to any basketball team. I bring a sense of winning. Off the court, I am a pretty fun guy to be around, pretty smart, and obviously, I come from a family that has those types of values so I am looking for a family feel too.”
To say Nix is from ACC country is an understatement. He says nearly his entire extended family lives in North Carolina, his mother is from North Carolina, and his father is a native of Virginia. His father, Derrick, played basketball at UNC Greensboro in the 90s, and is a member of the school’s hall of fame.
“I definitely know a lot about it and it is definitely a dream of mine,” he said about the ACC. “Ever since I was a little kid and understood the concept of basketball, playing in the ACC was definitely a goal of mine that I wanted to achieve. I have worked for that ever since. For that dream to come true and for me to play in the ACC, that would be just a huge moment in my life that I will never forget.”
Coming from North Carolina, Nix knew about the Capel brothers even before he was receiving interest from them. Now, he is being recruited by the pair and they will likely try to get him on campus for, well, the second time.
“The Capel brothers are well respected here in North Carolina,” he immediately said when Pitt came up in the conversation. “We actually, for spring break, we went up and toured some schools unofficially, like really unofficially. I don’t even think they knew we were there.”
While he did not tour the facilities because it was an unofficial trip, Nix said he did enjoy getting a chance to see the campus and get a feel for a city school.
“Pitt has a city feel to the campus,” he said. “That was one of the things that really stood out to me. As far as school, I know it’s a great, great academic school, and that is another thing that my mom really took the time to value. Pitt is a great program, a winning program, so, that is just a little bit that I know about Pitt.”
To get to know Nix’s game more, PSN caught up with his high school coach, Che Roth, who raves about the junior’s abilities on and off the court.
“My first impression of him was that he is a big, physical guard who can score at all three levels,” Roth said. “Really, like, really knows the game. When he was younger it was almost a detriment because he knew the game a little bit more than a lot of kids his age, so he would think a little bit and then react secondary.”
Roth continued speaking highly of Nix’s game, including some official stats from his recent season that were pretty impressive.
“I have seen him improve and he can shoot the flipping cover off the ball,” Roth added. “He shot 51% from three, 92% from the line, about 67% from the floor, but, he does it in a variety of ways. He is the most efficient player that I have ever coached. That includes 13 years of coaching in college before Cannon. He does a lot of a lot. He can post, he can put down, he scores with his feet in the paint, he obviously knocks down the three at a high rate. DJ’s greatest strength is probably his feel for the game, his competitiveness, and then he is an elite level passer.”
While he just finished up his junior season, Nix still has lots of time left to weigh his options and make his college decision. While it is still up in the air whether or not Pitt will offer the prospect, Roth says, the staff has shown interest in him as of late.
“Jason Capel has talked to me about him,” Roth said. “He likes DJ’s versatility, his ability to shoot the basketball. But just his size. He can play with the ball in his hands, he can play on the wing, with his back to the basket, so his versatility, I think, is most attractive to Jason. The Capel’s have a pretty good feel for big guards, given that they were both big guards.”