He is undeniably the tallest man on campus, standing 7’0 and weighing a whopping 313 pounds (recently down 80 pounds from a strict diet of baked fish and chicken) reigning from O-H-I-O by way of Cincinnati.
When this 21-year old PSC basketball center isn’t hooping, he scores by killing the latest dance moves or singing a few music notes. So who is this shy guy? The name is Rozelle “Ro” Nix. But have you ever imagined walking a day in his size 18 shoes?
It’s quite possible you’ve seen this gentle giant strolling the campus rocking Beats by Dre headphones, PSC basketball shorts and a matching t-shirt. On a typical Tuesday, he rises out of his twin–yes, TWIN-sized bed at 8:50 am and is dressed, ready, and 20 minutes early for his 9:30 am class.
Punctuality stands at the top of team priority and “every athlete arrives to practice at least 15 minutes early,” said Nix. According to Head Coach Pete Pena, “Your sport is your job,” and the athletes must conduct themselves so at all times. It is impossible for them to have a job outside of PSC basketball, and they are paid for their performance on the court by tuition, room and board, and a meal stipend of $200 every other Monday, according to assistant coach Joey Murdock.
The hard work, dedication, and professionalism that the team exemplifies on and off the court may go unnoticed by the average student. Not only must they be full time students and maintain a 2.0 gpa, but they must also attend all classes, practices, games, weight training, study halls, and mandated community service events.
Practice lasts an hour and a half, opens with a prayer, and ends with clothes drenched in sweat, heavy breathing, hearts racing, and at times a few blaring choice words by Pena when the guys are slacking. Drills are repeated until perfected, and each player is at risk of being cut at any moment, causing him to lose everything and fight daily to stay on the team and make the starting lineup. Constantly hustling up and down the court (never walking), they practice hard, as if a room full of NBA scouts are analyzing their every move for the upcoming draft.
Many of the elite scouts and coaches fly in for not weeks, or days, but merely hours just to get a glimpse of Nix and this talented team. Nix is heavily recruited by many Division I schools and has verbally committed to play at The University of Pittsburgh next year. “We have six returning starters,” said Nix and “the team is overwhelmingly favored to win both national and state championships this season.”
The Pirates are currently undefeated and the next home game is Friday, Dec. 5, at 7:30pm. Admission is complimentary for all PSC students (must present a valid student ID) and $5 for non-students. The complete 14-15 men’s basketball season schedule is available at http://athletics.pensacolastate.edu/