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Arizona women’s basketball season review: Bryce Nixon

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 24 Women’s Arizona State at Arizona Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats never got to complete their historic 2019-20 season. After setting one record after another and securing what was sure to be a chance to host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, the team saw its drive for a special ending to the year stopped in its tracks when the coronavirus pandemic shut down the sports world in mid-March.

While we’ll never know what this team could have accomplished in the NCAA Tournament, a full regular season and conference tournament worth of competition is more than enough to assess each individual player’s performance.

Bryce Nixon

  • Year: Sophomore
  • Height: 5-foot-10
  • Position: Guard
  • 2019-20 statistics: 17 GP, 5.5 MPG, 0.6 PPG, 0.2 RPG, 0.6 APG, 18.2 FG%, 8.3 3FG%, 100 FT%

Season breakdown

After playing 8.5 MPG in 33 games her freshman season, Bryce Nixon saw a huge decrease in her playing time this season. She appeared in just 17 games and her minutes fell to 5.5 per game.

Nixon came to Arizona from Arcadia High in Phoenix where she was an offensive star. She graduated as one of only three players since 1973 to score at least 2,000 points and dish out at least 500 assists.

That success didn’t follow her to Tucson. It was expected that she would be a shooter, but that was always a bit of a question. Her senior year in high school, she was good on 30 percent of her 3-point shots. That’s a solid number, but nothing spectacular for a guard.

At Arizona, she hit only 24.2 percent of her shots from distance (and 26.3 percent overall) her first year. That fell even further, dropping to 18.2 percent overall and just 8.3 percent from beyond the 3-point arc her sophomore year.

Nixon put the ball up just 22 times this season, making good on four shots. She hit just one of her 12 long-range shots.

She was the first reserve off the bench on opening night against North Dakota, playing 16 minutes. That night, Adia Barnes said she had earned it by being a great teammate and always doing what was asked of her.

It wasn’t to last, though. She had been buried in the depth chart by the time the Pac-12 season came around.

Over her two seasons, Nixon was considered a great teammate and a hard worker by both her coaches and her fellow Wildcats. That wasn’t enough for her, though. She wanted to be on the floor. Who can blame her?

Best stretch of play

Nixon’s best stretch of play came just as the Wildcats’ bench got shorter in early December. Several injuries, including the ankle injury to Dominique McBryde, forced Barnes to remake her rotation.

That stretch began on Dec. 2 against Monmouth. Both McBryde and Mara Mote were injured fairly early in the game, and Nixon was one of the players to benefit with playing time.

She played 15 minutes that night, one of only three times all season when she would see double-digit minutes. While she missed her only two shots, she grabbed a rebound and had a season-high five assists.

Ten days later, the Wildcats faced Tennessee State. Nixon again broke 10 minutes, seeing 12 minutes on the floor. She shot 3 for 5, scoring a season-high seven points.

Worst stretch of play

Although she was first off the bench in the opening game, Nixon had some struggles out of the gate. Over the first six games, she went 0 for 8 from the floor. She was able to contribute 0.7 APG in 7.5 MPG, but they were largely offset by 0.5 turnovers.

Quotable

Barnes moved Nixon back to the one in December in an attempt to get her more minutes. Nixon was asked about it after the Tennessee State game: “I was a point guard in high school and club, so I like it and I miss playing it.”

What’s next?

With her minutes fading and other guards stepping into her role, Nixon saw the writing on the wall. She entered her name in the transfer portal soon after the season ended. She has since signed to play at Santa Clara. Unless the NCAA grants immediate eligibility or she receives a waiver, she will sit out next season and then have two years to play for the Broncos.