Derrick Nix has had quite a journey.
Nix came into Michigan State weighing over 340 pounds. As his struggle with weight became publicly criticized, the pressure mounted. That would be just the first battle he would face as a Spartan -- he has since been maintaining a weight of 270 pounds, allowing him to become a more physically fit and aggressive player.
Nix then had to face a long battle in the classroom. Tom Izzo had to put his foot down on Nix, who was a first generation college student, for continually skipping classes. As a punishment for the ridiculous absences, the sophomore was left at home as the rest of the team headed to the Maui Invitational in 2010. Nix heard the message loud and clear, and managed to wake up even for those pesky morning classes moving forward.
Just as Derrick Nix seemed to be staying out of trouble and developing into a player the team could rely on, Nix was arrested after his junior season for possession of marijuana. He was suspended, which led to an emotional public apology. This was a third strike, but Coach Izzo was remaining patient with Nix to help him grow into a better person.
On the court, Nix was making big strides. From his freshman to senior year, Nix went from being a horrendous 27% free-throw shooter to a 74% one, a very respectable mark. That considerable improvement can only be accomplished by putting in extra hours on top of practice, showing his commitment and dedication to becoming a better basketball player.
Derrick Nix closed out his last game at the Breslin Center with ten points, four rebounds, and six assists. This season he was one of the team captains and the only senior from Tom Izzo's team -- will graduate in May.