When the CSU Rams practice, heâ€™s usually first on the court. When practice ends, heâ€™s usually the last player to head to the locker room. He is Adam Nigon and his hard work is helping to change CSU basketball.
Nigon, a 6-foot-3 guard, has been a critical part of the Ramsâ€™ success this season, starting every game for the green and gold while averaging 8.3 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. The junior first came to CSU as a walk-on his freshman year and through sheer determination has steadily improved from every season since.
Nigon said itâ€™s nice to see the hard work heâ€™s put in the past three years finally show up on the court.
â€œIt means a lot,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s just hard work in the gym paying off. I wasnâ€™t guaranteed anything, I just kind of worked my tail off and good things came my way. I have to be happy about that.â€
The most noticeable improvement in Nigonâ€™s game is in his offensive consistency. The Broomfield High School graduate has been a sharp shooter from three-point range for the Rams this season and is currently riding a streak of 11 straight games with a made three-pointer.
To improve his shot, Nigon said he worked in the gym the majority of the off-season and tries to shoot 500 three-pointers every practice. The former high school state champion said he can see the results of his offseason training.
â€œI tried to take my offensive game to the next level,â€ Nigon said. â€œThatâ€™s how coaches told me the way to find my way on the floor was to be a consistent knock-down shooter. I think Iâ€™m starting to get that.â€
Although head coach Tim Miles said he can see improvement in most areas of Nigonâ€™s game, he agreed itâ€™s Nigonâ€™s shooting that is keeping him on the floor.
â€œ(Shooting is) whatâ€™s gotten him more minutes,â€ Miles said. â€œI think heâ€™s a weapon; I like the way he plays. Heâ€™s got a great voice as far as leading the team, and all those things really build into the confidence heâ€™s growing by knowing heâ€™s a weapon on the floor.â€
Last season, Nigon compiled only six three-pointers while shooting only 25 percent from behind the arc. With six regular season games left this year, Nigon has already connected on 41 shots from downtown and holds a .394 shooting percentage from deep.
Nigonâ€™s deep ball isnâ€™t the only thing that has improved as heâ€™s matured. CSU freshman Dorian Green explained Nigonâ€™s leadership is his most important contribution to the team.
â€œHeâ€™s one of the leaders of our team, just the way he plays,â€ Green, a fellow guard, said. â€œHeâ€™s just always moving on offense, and he hits shots. I think the biggest thing is that he is a leader for us and heâ€™s one of the most vocal guys on the team.â€
Nigon said he does feel like a leader on the team and explained that his main goal as a leader is to foster a work ethic in some of the younger guys.
â€œThey see me in here before practice working on my game or working hard practicing defense and it shows them weâ€™re here to win. Weâ€™re here to build something bigger than ourselves and thatâ€™s really what I try to do.â€
Even though Nigon has shown tremendous growth this season, he explained there is always room for improvement. While personal success and accolades are nice, itâ€™s improving his team and program that drives the in-state product the most.
â€œWe lost so many games my first two years, and I donâ€™t want to go through that again,â€ Nigon said. â€œI think from where we came is just huge and that comes with hard work. Weâ€™ve been working hard since I got here so itâ€™s great to see the hard work pay off.â€
Assistant Sports Editor Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at email@example.com.