Iowa State Cyclones

Prentiss Nixon embraces expanded role for Iowa State men's basketball

With Tyrese Haliburton out, Nixon takes over at point guard

Iowa State guard Prentiss Nixon (11) drives past Oklahoma guard Austin Reaves (12) during the first half of an NCAA coll
Iowa State guard Prentiss Nixon (11) drives past Oklahoma guard Austin Reaves (12) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Norman, Okla., Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020. (Kyle Phillips/Associated Press)

AMES — Prentiss Nixon hasn’t had the season he was expecting.

The Colorado State transfer was billed as a lock-down defender and capable 3-point shooter. But after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, Nixon has had trouble hitting his stride at Iowa State.

He’s shooting just 34 percent from the field and 23 percent from beyond the arc.

The senior was taken out of the starting lineup on Feb. 1 in favor of freshman Tre Jackson.

After Tyrese Haliburton’s season-ending wrist injury, Nixon was inserted back into the starting lineup Wednesday against Oklahoma and played all 40 minutes.

Nixon will have a chance to build in his second chance as a Cyclone as Iowa State hosts Texas (14-10, 4-7) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Hilton Coliseum.

“Maybe now for the rest of the season he has the role that he envisioned that he didn’t have a couple weeks ago,” Iowa State Coach Steve Prohm said. “He’ll be at the point guard with Rasir (Bolton).”

Nixon understands why he wasn’t the point guard and didn’t have his desired role. The Cyclones had Haliburton — a projected top-10 NBA Draft pick.

Now, even with the Cyclones at 10-14 overall and 3-8 in the Big 12, Nixon hopes he can help make the most of the season by finishing strong and helping develop Iowa State’s young players both on and off the court.

“There have been a lot of ups and downs but that’s life, at the end of the day,” Nixon said. “You come into a season with goals and aspirations and a view of what you think things are going to be like. And then things don’t work out like that.

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“That’s when you have to find a way to keep pushing through and find a way to lead these young guys and make good things come out of this season. There is still basketball left to be played. We can make a difference. We have to come in everyday with the mindset that we have to work hard.”

With Haliburton out, Nixon has taken on much more of the on-court leadership role. Even if his shooting struggles continue, he knows he has to stay level.

“I’ve had games where I’ve played good and I’ve had games where I’ve played terrible,” Nixon said. “I’ve had good defensive games and I’ve had bad defensive games. I just have to stay positive, stay in the gym and stay watching film. I can’t ever stop just because things aren’t going my way.

“Being a leader on this team, I can’t ever be weary and fall off. I have to stay with it and keep guys encouraged.”

Nixon said his path to Iowa State is what has allowed him to stay positive and upbeat.

“(My mindset) comes with character,” Nixon said. “Take out basketball and life is a monster and things come at you quickly. Then you put basketball in it and basketball is a small aspect of life to where it teaches you a lot of things in a short amount of time. Staying strong minded says a lot about our character.

“To credit this team, we haven’t lost faith in each other and we haven’t lost faith in this season. We still come in everyday and work hard.”

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