Alaska basketball’s new generation of elite players isn’t waiting to get next.
They got it going on already.
Five of Alaska’s finest scorers were on full display all over the country today as Daishen Nix, JT Thor, Jeremiah Bailey, Bentiu Panoam and Da’Zhon Wyche each produced big scoring efforts.
Nix netted a career-high 25 points – the third most points for an Alaskan in the NBA G League.
Thor tore up Kentucky for a career-high 24 points – the most points for an Alaskan at famed Rupp Arena.
Bailey bagged a career-high 28 points for Pacific and became the 12th Alaskan to drain six 3-pointers in a D1 game.
Panoam pumped in a career-high 25 points for North Dakota – the most points for him since his JC days in 2018.
Wyche scored a season-high 30 points for his first 30 piece of his NCAA D2 career.
It was the kind of day that should remind everybody finally and forever that Alaska has, can and will produce elite players on the national level.
Nix and Thor are leading the way for Alaska’s we-got-next generation. They represent the next wave of NBA talent and their success would allow Alaska to step out of the shadow of Langdon-Boozer-Chalmers.
Nix was the first Alaskan since the Big 3 to earn high school McDonald’s All-American status before skipping college and going straight to the pro level in the NBA G League.
The 6-foot-5 rookie guard from Anchorage is under enormous pressure to perform in the G League with critics already questioning his game and his fitness just one week into his career.
But Nix seems unfazed.
Even after going scoreless in his second pro game, he stayed cool and responded by celebrating his 19th birthday in grand fashion – draining a halfcourt shot to beat the first-quarter buzzer and delivering the dagger late in the fourth quarter in one of the greatest games by an Alaskan in the G League.
Nix’s became the third Alaskan to score 25 points in a G League game, joining Sitka’s Roderick Wilmont and Anchorage’s Ramon Harris. But it wasn’t just his scoring. Nix also grabbed eight rebounds, handed off six assists, made a steal and registered his first blocked shot.
He also played the entire fourth quarter in a 113-105 win that moved the Ignite to 3-0 on the season.
At Auburn University, Thor is looking more and more like a future pro.
The 6-foot-10 forward from Anchorage has a hard-to-guard offensive skill set that can create mismatches by stretching a defense from the perimeter to the post.
Thor had it all working against Kentucky with a 24-point, 9-rebound, 2-block takeover type performance.
He drained 8-of-11 shots, including 5-of-6 3-pointers, and scored 12 of his team’s final 14 points in an 82-80 loss.
“That’s why he’s one of my best NBA prospects because he has the ability to elevate his game,” said Auburn coach Bruce Pearl. “You have 24 and 9 as a freshman in Rupp, that’s pretty good. He’s got a great future, and he’s a pretty good player right now. I’m really proud of JT. He’s a great teammate, too. He’s so unselfish.”
At the University of the Pacific, Bailey has emerged as one of his team’s most explosive scorers.
The 6-foot-6 forward from Fairbanks has eclipsed the 20-point mark three times this season and has now done it in back-to-back games.
He made 10 field goals for the first time in his career and went 6-for-11 from beyond the 3-point arc in an 80-76 loss to Loyola Marymount.
Bailey is 21-of-53 from downtown this season for a .396 percentage, his highest since his sophomore season. He ranks second on the team with a career-best 12.3 points per game average.
At the University of North Dakota, Panoam has got to be in the running for Summit League Comeback Player of the Year award.
The 6-foot-2 guard from Anchorage continues to play his redemption song, this time to the tune of 25 points in an 85-76 win over South Dakota.
Two months ago, he seldom got off the bench. Now he seldom leaves the court.
Panoam has increased his scoring average from 0.5 points per game on Jan. 8 to a career-best 7.9 on Feb. 13 after reaching double figures in six of the last 10 games.
At the University of Texas Tyler, Wyche has resurrected his season after restoring his confidence following a slow start.
The 5-foot-9 guard from Anchorage cashed in on 9-of-14 field goals and all eight free-throw attempts to give him 30 points.
Wyche has thrived in his new role of coming off the bench. Rather than pout, he pounced on the opportunity to carve out a new niche as a microwave oven.
He heats up quick and has averaged 19 points per game during his team’s current four-game winning streak.