Shooting into history

Senior basketball star scores 1000 career points

Senior+Nick+Donnelly+dodges+Plano+opponent+as+he+passes+the+ball+to+his+teammate.+The+team+won+the+game+65-43.

Photo submitted by Ana Maria Myers-Olvera

Senior Nick Donnelly dodges Plano opponent as he passes the ball to his teammate. The team won the game 65-43.

Senior Nick Donnelly was one game away from making school basketball history. Up until the last home game of the season, he had scored 988 career points. As one of the varsity team’s top scorers and a high percentage shooter, the upcoming game was his chance at reaching 1000 career points, a record only reached by seven others in school history.

While confident he could reach it, he felt anticipation about being so close to something every high school player coveted. He took a deep breath as his team lined up for pre-game warm ups, reminding himself to ignore the numbers and focus. It was going to be a game just like any other.

• • •

In early elementary school, Donnelly’s start in basketball was due mainly to his dad.

“My dad played in college at Michigan State with Magic Johnson, and they ended up winning the 1997 national championships,” Donnelly said. “I always wanted to follow in his footsteps.”

Through elementary school, Donnelly played football, soccer and pretty much every other sport he could, but basketball was special. In seventh grade, he made the Briarhill team.

“At the time, I kind of just played it for fun,” Donnelly said. “I didn’t really see myself coming this far.”

From there, though, he started to get serious. In eighth grade, he made the team again and met Clay Cody, his first coach at Marcus.

“Coach Cody was great. I’ve known him for a long time,” Donnelly said. “Back in eighth grade, he used to call me to the gym to come play with the older guys, so that was a really cool experience.”

When Cody left Donnelly’s sophomore year, Shane Rogers was named the new head coach. He’d seen Donnelly play from the opposing side, as a previous coach for Lewisville High School. But as he blew the whistle for their first practice, he knew coaching him personally would be entirely different.

“As a sophomore, he was a catch-and-shoot kind of player, with very little defense game,” Rogers said. “Very immature kind of player, then.”

Over time, Rogers had a firsthand look at Donnelly’s progress.

“Junior year, he started to get more mature, started working on his defensive game and seeing where he could contribute,” Rogers said. “It’s all because of just how much he’s worked.”

Senior Nick Donnelly searches for a nearby teammate to pass the ball. (Brooke Luther)

In the weight room, on the court, and just as a person, Donnelly appreciates his mentors. He said coaches Austin Rodriguez and James Singleton have taught him just as much about life as basketball.

“Since [Singleton] has played in the NBA, he knows a lot about the game and a lot about being a person,” Donnelly said. “Coach Rod and I have known each other a long time, and we’re really close. He’s a great guy.”

Over the years, meeting new people and working with his teammates on the court have been Donnelly’s favorite part of basketball. Senior Cale Martens, captain of the varsity team alongside Donnelly, has seen the team develop through high school.

“Playing with each other, whether it’s in practice, open gym or whatever… we start learning each other’s tendencies and just know each other really well,” Martens said. “And I think, after four years, we seniors, and especially Nick and I, have just clicked on a really high level.”

• • •

As the game began, Donnelly needed 12 more points to turn his 988 into 1000 and he averaged around 14 points per game, so his team and coach assured him that he could just play normally.
The fans were on the edge of their seats as Donnelly found an opening and took aim on the three point line.

It was a shot he’d made hundreds of times before, and everyone was reminded of that as the ball dropped through the basket, marking over 1000 career points to his name and winning him a historic spot in the basketball program.

“My teammates were going hype, going crazy on the bench when I hit that last shot,” Donnelly said. “I think everyone in the stands knew too, and it was just cool to feel all that.”

After the game, Donnelly was congratulated by his teammates in the locker room. The seniors had mixed emotions.

My teammates were going hype, going crazy on the bench when I hit that last shot.”

— Nick Donnelly, 12

“I think some of us knew we weren’t going to play at Marcus again, so that was kind of a downside to everything, but we still dumped a bunch of water on Nick,” Martens said. “We were going crazy. It was a lot of fun. I’ll definitely remember that for a long time.”

Donnelly says his success is thanks to his mindset— to keep pressing forward and put in whatever it takes to get to where he needs to be.

“Hard work and dedication will overcome anything thrown at you,” Donnelly said. “I knew that if I kept that in my head, I could pretty much accomplish anything I wanted to.”

Donnelly recently committed to University of Texas at Dallas where he plans to play through college. One of his main ambitions is the opportunity to play overseas, like Singleton. Meeting new people and growing as a person is what he really wants to gain from playing, and even when he gives everything he has out on the court, he always plans to take away something different.

“You learn a lot about being a person from the game of basketball,” Donnelly said. “I advise anyone coming through the program to keep learning, keep working hard, and your dreams will come true.”