Following a successful high school career at Foothills High School in Tucson, Arizona, Nigel began his college basketball career at MiraCosta College in Oceanside, California during the pandemic shortened 2020-21 academic year. The combined effects of being far from home for the first time, several serious COVID-related family illnesses, the inability to connect with people in person, and a foot injury that kept him off the court put a strain on his mental health. He struggled with depression, but by opening up to his athletic counselor, he was encouraged to see a therapist. With the help of on-campus mental health counselors, an athletic counselor, and his teammates and coaches, he worked tirelessly to get his life back on track.
Last season, as he continued to work on his mental health, he played in 18 games at MiraCosta, averaging 4.2 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. The highlight of his season was a 6 point, 7 rebound, and 4 steal performance against San Diego City College in the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) SoCal Regional Finals. His steady improvement, strong academic performance, and superb athleticism convinced Pasadena City College head coach Ryan Frazer to offer him a roster spot for the 2022-23 season.
The 6-foot-9-inch forward started the season coming off the bench for the Lancers, but after just two weeks, he was inserted into the starting lineup. He delivered back-to-back 14-point performances, earning a starting spot that he kept for the remainder of the season. He was a big reason for the Lancers’ dramatic improvement from a 1-26 record last season to a 22-9 mark and a berth in the CCCAA SoCal Regional Finals, where they eventually lost 63-58 to San Bernardino Valley. In 29 games, he averaged 10.3 points and 6.2 rebounds.
Nigel is on schedule to earn his AA degree this spring, and at the end of the semester will transfer to one of the many schools that have expressed interest in his talents.
“CalHOPE is honored to recognize student-athletes statewide who have overcome their challenges to perform their best as both scholars and athletes. CalHOPE’s purpose is to build community resiliency and help people recover from disasters and public health emergencies through free outreach, crisis counseling, and support services. We hope that by sharing these stories of courage, we will all be inspired.”
Autumn Boylan, Deputy Director of the Office of Strategic Partnerships for DHCS