Summers: Born to play hoops
If there was ever a kid born to play basketball, it was Nick Summers.
Summers, a 6-foot junior guard-forward at Douglas High, is the third-generation of his family to play basketball in the area, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Jim, a Douglas High graduate, and his dad, John, who was all-state his senior year at Whittell High, and later coached there. In fact, Jim Summers holds the state’s single-game scoring record of 70 set against Stewart back in 1952.
“If you ask him about it, he’ll tell you about it,” Summers said, referring to his grandfather’s record. “He’s kind of quiet about it.”
Summers is grateful for his early introduction to the game.
“Jake and I would go to my dad’s practices at Whittell and shoot around on the side,” Summers said. “I was lucky to get exposed to it very early, and I took to it. I’m thankful for it. I just love basketball.”
John Summers said he never had to push his son toward the game.
“He was always wanting to know when we were going to the gym,” John Summers said. “I’d go over to school to do some work and he’d stay in the gym for hours. I’d come in there, and he’d set up obstacles that he had to dribble around or shoot over.
“I think being at practice, and listening when I would tell my teams about fundamentals, he was getting a jump start before he could develop bad habits.”
In fact, it was at Whittell where current Douglas coach Keith Lewis, who was a former varsity assistant there, first met Summers.
“He comes from a good basketball family,” Lewis said. “His grandfather is in our Hall of Fame and John was a pretty good player in his own right. I remember Nick was always in the gym shooting when I coached at Whittell.”
Nick started his high school career at tiny 2A Whittell and he helped lead the Warriors to the state semifinals at UNR’s Lawlor Events Center where they lost to The Meadows of Las Vegas and eventually finished third.
“It was pretty exciting to play at Lawlor,” Summers said.
But Summers yearned for more challenges, athletically and academically, and decided to transfer to Douglas for his sophomore year. The NIAA ruled that since Summers’ family didn’t abandon their home in the Zephyr Cove area, he was allowed only to play on junior varsity teams his sophomore seasons. The family has since bought property in the Minden area and Nick stays there with his dad during the week.
“I love it here,” said the Douglas star. “I always wanted to go here even before high school basketball. There are more people and more
classes available here. I’ve met all kinds of people and I have a lot more friends.
“It wasn’t just about athletics. Sports did help. Playing 4A, there are more opportunities than 2A. Since my dad always knew people down here and I always went to the Tiger Basketball Camp when I was younger.”
That, and the fact he would have had to pay tuition to attend South Tahoe High, made the choice to come to Douglas an easy one.
His older brother, Jake, still is at Whittell, and lives with his mom during the week.
Lewis is happy to have him, and admitted that Summers would have played varsity as a sophomore had it not been for the NIAA’s ruling.
“He understands the game very well,” Lewis said. “He’s pretty good with his positioning on the court and he can play every position except center.”
Summers has been a model of consistency for the 5-14 Tigers. He’s averaging 13,7 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 1.7 assists per game. In recent games, he’s become more of a slasher and a pull-up jump shooter instead of lofting up three-point shots like he did his first two years in high school.
“I think I’m taking it to the hole well,” Summers said. “I’ve struggled at times with my outside shot. It helps my game out that I can drive to the basket when I’m not shooting well.”
Lewis said, “He’s never gotten his stroke going consistently. A lot of his scoring has come from drives to the basket. He’s pretty crafty inside. We’re trying to get him to penetrate and take a 5- or 6-footer. Sometimes he tends to overpenetrate and tries to go all the way to the basket and gets caught up in the air.”
That happened a few times in the recent win over South Tahoe when he missed his first few outside shots and started looking to go inside consistently after that.
Though he made a few mistakes, he was the only Tiger that would challenge the Vikings’ 6-foot-8 Curtis Johnson. He ended up with a team-leading 16 points in the 63-53 overtime win.
While Summers has met the expectations of Lewis, the Douglas junior said he continues to work on getting quicker through jump-roping and plyometrics.
Summers also wants to be a more consistent outside shooter, and if that happens, Sierra League teams will be in big trouble the rest of this year and next season.
Certainly another solid season will make his dad and grandfather proud.
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