Sports

2 players who grew up playing in Anchorage could go in Thursday’s NBA draft

No need for last names when discussing the holy trinity of Alaska men’s basketball: Trajan, Carlos and Mario.

They are the three players who ascended to the NBA after starring in Division I basketball — Trajan Langdon and Carlos Boozer at Duke, Mario Chalmers at Kansas.

No Alaskan has been drafted since Chalmers in 2008. But with two players who got their start on Anchorage playgrounds poised to be picked in Thursday’s NBA draft, now might be a good time to start talking about Daishen and JT.

Daishen Nix, a 6-foot-5 point guard who opted for the G League instead of college last year. JT Thor is a 6-9 power forward who shined during his freshman season at Auburn and then declared for the draft.

They played against each other as youngsters and they both left Anchorage at age 14 to pursue NBA dreams.

Nix moved to Las Vegas with his family after he graduated from Mears Middle School — his mom, Mina Tupuola, said the move was made in part to give her son more basketball opportunities — and Thor left after his freshman year at West High to play at a prep school in West Virginia.

[JT Thor left Alaska after one season of JV basketball at West High. Now he’s 18 and waiting to be picked in the NBA draft.]

“I’ve played against Daishen Nix all my life. It would be crazy to play against him in the NBA,” Thor said in an interview with hoopshype.com.

Both men appear on just about every mock draft out there, with Thor projected by many to go early in the second round and Nix projected to go midway through the second round. Sixty players will be drafted, 30 in the first round and 30 in the second around.

Thor’s early education meant learning about the three guys from Alaska who made it big, and wondering if what they achieved was possible for kids like him and Nix.

“... When I was in middle school, I would think about players like Mario Chalmers, Trajan Langdon and Carlos Boozer (who grew up in Alaska), and think, ‘Can I actually get there with them?’ ‘‘ Thor told USA Today’s The Rookie Wire. “It is crazy to think me and him can actually get there.”

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