Jordan Nixon joins deep haul at point guard for Notre Dame women's basketball

Anthony Anderson
Tribune Correspondent

Jordan Nixon knows about the player rankings. That doesn’t mean she accepts them.

Nixon, who verbally committed last weekend to continue her women’s basketball career in 2018-19 at Notre Dame, joins what is shaping up as a rich and deep haul at point guard for the Irish over the next couple years.

“I don’t compare myself to other people, and I don’t trust comparisons,” Nixon said in a soft, friendly, but nevertheless firm tone Thursday. “I want to see for myself.”

She’ll get that chance.

Nixon joins an ND recruiting class that includes Katlyn Gilbert of Heritage Christian in Indianapolis. Gilbert is rated the No. 7 point guard nationally among current high school seniors and the No. 27 player overall by ESPN, while Nixon checks in at No. 15 and No. 59.

Furthermore, the Irish already have a commitment for 2019 from Anaya Peoples. The Danville, Ill., prospect is ranked as high as the No. 1 point guard by at least one outlet and No. 3 by ESPN in her class.

“Everyone on a team has to compete for that opportunity on the floor,” Nixon said. “I am competitive, so as long as I do what I need to do and work hard, I’m not giving (who else is coming) much thought.”

The 5-foot-9 Nixon chose Notre Dame over Georgia, Ohio State, UCLA and Virginia after visiting each school. She visited ND during Labor Day weekend.

“There was a lot of overlap and I enjoyed all my visits,” Nixon said, “but for me, it just came down to comfortability. I feel like I belong at Notre Dame. I didn’t realize I felt that way until the plane ride going home.”

Nixon, who turned 18 on Aug. 22, and current Notre Dame freshman Danielle Patterson teamed to lead The Mary Louis Academy of New York City to a Class AA Catholic state title last season and to Class AA overall state runner-up honors.

“Honestly, it wasn’t a big one,” Nixon said of how much Patterson’s landing spot with the Irish factored into her own decision. “Not that Dani and I aren’t close, but I don’t think she influenced my decision too much. Obviously, we spoke on my visit.”

While Patterson, a 6-2 forward, earned McDonald’s All-American honors last season, TMLA coach JoAnn Arbitello-Pinnock has repeatedly sang the praises of Nixon as well.

“Jordan was the best player in the state last season,” Arbitello-Pinnock told ESPN in August, “and she’s definitely the best player this year.”

Dan Olson, who prepares ESPN’s player rankings for women’s basketball, compiled glowing notes on Nixon after a July AAU tourney.

“Explosively athletic lead guard with 1 on 1 creativity,” Olson wrote. “Playground creator, court awareness, passes with flair; a shot maker off the dribble, collapses the defense, rises and delivers in the key; developing deep threat, game consistency; crafty, shifty, tough to contain.”

As much ground as that covers, Nixon leads off with something else when asked about her game.

“For me, it’s definitely leadership,” she said Thursday of her strengths. “It’s something I pride myself on. From my eighth grade summer on, my AAU coach (Walter Welsh of iEXCEL) has been pushing me to take that role and embrace it.”

Nixon helped her AAU squad win tourneys in Chicago, New Orleans and Atlanta last summer.

“I think I have an overall game and do what’s necessary on the court,” Nixon said. “As far as what I want to improve, all aspects, but definitely my shooting. Over the past couple years, I’ve changed the technical aspect of my shooting, so I’m still working to improve accuracy and range.”

Nixon can sign her letter of intent during the NCAA’s Nov. 8-15 early signing period.

Until they sign, college coaches cannot comment on their commits, though commits can speak about their coaches.

“She’s definitely knowledgeable and easy-going,” Nixon said of Irish head coach Muffet McGraw’s role in her college choice. “A lot of coaches of that stature and presence make people shy away, but she was definitely approachable and I’m looking forward to playing for her.”

Nixon, who lives in Manhattan, spent her first two years of high school at Horace Mann in the Bronx before transferring to TMLA, which is in the Jamaica Estates section of Queens.

Nixon’s a strong student whose mom, Jannae Walch, once described as “bugged out when she got a B-plus.”

Nixon plans to study biology at Notre Dame, and possibly pursue veterinary medicine.

“I enjoy the process of problem solving,” Nixon said. “Ever since I started doing labs in ninth grade, and then talked with my best friend about it, (veterinary medicine is) something I’ve had at least on the back burner.”

Nixon has two pets of her own — a dog, Polo, and a rabbit, Sugar — but her interest in them extends to a deeper level.

“Like most people, I love animals,” Nixon said, “but I like to know more beyond just their cuteness.”

Big picture

While commitments can be ever-fluid until early signing week, while there are still 21 players listed as uncommitted, and while some programs aren’t necessarily looking to fill many spots in a given year, the addition of Nixon does leave Notre Dame tied with Michigan at four for the most class of 2018 recruits in the ESPN top 100 as of Thursday.

Besides Gilbert at No. 27 and Nixon at No. 59, the Irish have received commitments from No. 67 Danielle Cosgrove, a 6-foot-3 post from Farmingville, N.Y., and No. 80 Abby Prohaska, a 5-10 off guard from West Chester, Ohio.

Michigan’s top-100 commits are slotted at Nos. 39, 57, 86 and 97.

Schools with three players who have committed include Texas, Maryland and Mississippi State.

For the Longhorns and ACC-member Terrapins in particular, the rankings are collectively impressive. Texas has unofficially added the second, 12th and 56th-ranked players, per the ESPN list, while Maryland has landed Nos. 3, 32 and 33.

Notably, UConn — which ended up with four of the top 16 and five of the top 29 recruits in the class of 2017 — doesn’t have its name next to any of the 2018 top 100, yet.

However, those 21 players who haven’t committed, according to ESPN, still include No. 1 Christyn Williams of Little Rock, Ark., three of the top five and seven of the top 24.

Williams, a 5-11 combo guard, is believed to be considering the Huskies, along with South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and UCLA.

Olivia Nelson-Ododa, ranked No. 5 overall and rated No. 1 among post players, is being linked to several schools, including Notre Dame.

The Irish appear to have plenty of flexibility to still add players.

Their current roster includes just 11 scholarship individuals (the NCAA allows 15), and Mychal Johnson, Kristina Nelson, Lili Thompson and Kathryn Westbeld are each expected to complete their eligibility this season.

Point guard Jordan Nixon, a 2018 recruit, committed to Notre Dame last weekend. (Photo courtesy iExcel)