Hoop stars leaving Fenwick

Junior guards D.J. Steward, Damari Nixon to attend new school next year

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By Marty Farmer

Sports Editor

Fenwick High School basketball standouts D.J. Steward and Damari Nixon didn't play in this weekend's highly regarded Riverside-Brookfield Summer Shootout.

That's because both players have decide to leave Fenwick to attend another school. Each player is reportedly undecided as to where they will transfer at the moment.

The Friars certainly will miss the two star guards as Staunton Peck takes over as head coach next season after Rick Malnati's resignation this spring.

Their departures coupled with the graduation of key players like AJ Nixon, Michael O'Laughlin and Billy Bruce leaves the varsity lineup a bit thin. Top varsity returners Bryce Hopkins, Solomon Oraegbu and Lucas Kolovitz will have increased roles next winter.

The 6-foot-2 Steward is a Top 50 recruit nationally in the Class of 2020. He has scholarships offers from DePaul, Illinois, Illinois State, Florida and Georgia Tech. He averaged 18.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game last season. He also shot the ball very well at 54 percent on field goals, 41 percent on 3-pointers and 82 percent on free throws. Steward made the first-team at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament and led the Friars to an undefeated conference run as the Chicago Catholic League Blue Player of the Year.

Steward surpassed the hype about his game right midway through his freshman year. His breakout performance occurred at the aforementioned Proviso West tourney. He also shot a perfect game in a 69-67 overtime loss to Morgan Park in the Class 3A state final, going 10-for-10 from the field (including a pair of 3-pointers) and 2-for-2 at the free throw line to finish with a game-high 26 points. He also had seven rebounds and four steals in one of the best performances by a freshman in state finals history. The Friars finished 30-5 with a Chicago Catholic League title in 2017.

Nixon, a fellow freshman with Steward that year, scored eight points in the state final and played a key role on the best team in program history.

"These last 3-4 years have been special because now the school is getting recognition for all the hard work this group and the guys before us put in," Nixon said after the 2017 state final. "It shows that all of our hard is paying off because of all the success we've had these past years.

"Fenwick has always been known for being an excellent academic school, but now we are showing that we can compete with some of the best basketball teams in the state."

As an extremely quick combo guard who shoots left-handed, the 6-foot-1 Nixon breaks down defenses with his driving ability. He is a very disruptive on-ball defender as well. A nephew of former Farragut Academy star Ronnie Fields, Nixon has drawn recruiting interest from Army West Point, Wright State, and Kent State among other colleges.


Email: marty@oakpark.com Twitter: @OakParkSports

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