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South Valley Journal

Living the dream: Riverton alum Cody Nixon continues basketball career in Oregon

Jul 16, 2021 10:06AM ● By Josh Martinez

Cody Nixon signs a letter of intent to play basketball at Southwestern Oregon Community College. (Photo courtesy of the Nixon family.)

By Josh Martinez | [email protected] 

An eighth grade dream has become a reality for former Riverton High School basketball player Cody Nixon.

Nixon, who just graduated from Riverton, recently signed to play collegiate basketball with Southwestern Oregon Community College in Coos Bay, Oregon. He follows in the footsteps of many in his family who played collegiate sports.

But his goals don’t stop at SWOCC.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made signing with big schools a tough feat since many are allowing an extra year of eligibility to those who endured cancelled or altered seasons. This led to limited roster spaces for incoming freshmen.

With that in mind, Nixon followed the advice to give junior colleges a try with the hope of finding a Division I or II school who will want him in a few years.

Still, Nixon said he is excited about playing at SWOCC not only because it can help him further his goals but also because head coach Riley Grandinetti, a Salt Lake County native.

“I could just tell he wanted me a lot more than the other schools and once I did sign, he was posting like crazy about it, saying ‘we’re super excited about this kid,’” Nixon said. “It just made me feel like I was welcomed.”

The achievement of signing at SWOCC didn’t come easy. Will Nixon, Cody’s father, said it was fun to see his son grow.

“That’s probably the biggest thing that I’m proud of, that he was, he had to work at it, but he was able to accomplish his goals, especially with it being a crazy year with COVID,” Will Nixon said.

An athletic pedigree

Cody comes from a family of athletes. 

His grandfather played basketball at Brigham Young University–Idaho, then called Ricks College. His mother, Kelly Nixon, played basketball at Snow College, while Will Nixon played baseball at BYU.

Furthermore, he has several extended family members who played collegiate sports, including New Orleans Saints and former BYU quarterback Taysom Hill.

“He’s [Cody] definitely been around a lot of guys who have put in the work and know what it takes,” Will Nixon said. “He benefited from that because he was encouraged by those guys as well.”

While there has been a wide array of athletes in his family, Cody said he naturally gravitated to basketball. He believed he had a natural talent for it and by eighth grade, he had dropped other sports to focus on basketball.

Along with playing at Riverton, Cody also competed on the Amateur Athletic Union team the Salt Lake Rebels. 

Former UNLV player Evric Gray leads the club and said Cody is a versatile player who can shoot the ball really well while also putting a big focus on the defensive end. While primarily a shooting guard, Gray said Cody can play point guard if needed.

“He’s a very good teammate, which is a big thing nowadays because a lot of kids are terrible teammates,” Gray said. “That’s one of the things we love about Cody. He’s a willing passer, he’s a really good teammate and he can score the ball so a lot of guys really like being around him.”

When not playing club basketball, Cody was at Riverton where he was the Silverwolves leading scorer during his senior year. He averaged double-digit points his junior year as well.

Cody said both club and high school basketball helped him develop different aspects of his game. 

In high school, he said there was a lot of structure and schemes to keep the game organized. Cody also said he enjoyed the camaraderie of the team and the focus on the fundamentals.

In club, the was more fast-paced and a focus on going with the flow of the game. He also played with a lot of talented players who had similar goals to him.

“It’s kind of hard to decide between the two just because both of them really helped in a sense,” he said.

Finding the next level

While Cody set his sights on collegiate basketball in eighth grade, he didn’t start focusing hard on it until his junior year.

He said his club team was where he was getting a lot of attention because he could get in front of the scouts at showcases. The offers didn’t start until his senior year.

Will Nixon said his son was generating interest just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, including from Utah State. 

During that time, Gray had moved Cody up to his top team, which featured four Division I athletes. With many areas shut down because of the pandemic, finding showcases was tricky, but Gray said they went to states that had looser restrictions, allowing Cody to play in front of the scouts.

Also during the pandemic, Will Nixon said Cody would work out with professional athletes, because he knew someone who helped train pros.

It was during this time when junior colleges started showing more interest in Cody. Will said Cody started getting advice from some of the professional athletes he knew to go with the junior college scene before moving up to a Division I or II school.

Enter Grandinetti.

Grandinetti had played previously for Gray on the club scene, so there was already a connection. Grandinetti said he likes to recruit in Utah and keeps an eye on southwest Salt Lake County.

“I followed Cody a little bit his junior year, went to a couple of games, so he’s always been on our radar a little bit,” he said. “Senior year, he continued to improve, and it was almost a no-brainer.”

While Will Nixon said he and his wife hoped Cody would stay close to home, they both are happy he’ll get to have an out-of-state experience.

“We thought it was a really good experience for us to move away from home,” he said. “As hard as it is for parents, I think for the kids, it’s a good deal.”

Looking ahead

Grandinetti said he likes Cody’s length, especially for the position he plays, and believes he will fit into the fast-paced shooting offense SWOCC runs.

Cody has the ability to be a momentum changer, Grandinetti said, because of his shooting abilities and his defensive capabilities.

“Off the court, he’s from a really good family,” he said. “You can tell they just care about him, and they want him to be successful. We try to create a family atmosphere here too with the small town that we’re in. So I’m really looking forward to just having a good kid on campus as well.” 

Since Grandinetti recruits in Utah, there are some local athletes who Cody can play alongside, including Kase Peterson, a Herriman High School alumnus.

As for goals, Cody has set some lofty expectations. He hopes to spend a year at SWOCC and eventually draw the interest of Division I or II schools, but he is prepared to spend two years at the school.

After that, he hasn’t quite decided but he has some friends who play overseas and has considered that route.

But for now, Cody’s focus will be on SWOCC, not only for his basketball game but also for is schooling.

“Academics has been a big thing for me throughout high school, and they still are a big thing because everybody in my family has graduated college,” he said. “I’ve seen what college can do for you. So, I just want to graduate and just open up my opportunities.”