Very rarely do we hear of two high school basketball teammates continuing their hoops careers together at the next level in college.
It’s also rare that a high school will have a McDonald’s All-American in back-to-back school years.
So basically it would be unheard of for two McDonald’s All-Americans from the same high school to team up in college – let alone the defending national champions. Until now.
Former stars Danielle Patterson and Jordan Nixon from The Mary Louis Academy (TMLA), Jamaica Estates, are back together again on the court for the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind.
“It’s great because a lot of people don’t get to play with their high school teammates past high school,” said Patterson, a TMLA All-American in 2017. “Just being able to learn and grow with her (Nixon) and be teammates again, that’s something that’s really great.”
Patterson was a freshman forward who appeared in 33 games for the Fighting Irish squad that won last year’s NCAA Division I national championship over Mississippi State, Starkville.
Nixon, an All-American this past school year, has joined the squad for the current season. Having Patterson already there was an important factor in her college decision.
“It’s helped me tremendously,” the freshman guard said. “Obviously being in a new space without my parents and a lot of new faces, it was definitely scary, but just knowing that Dani (Patterson) is here and she knows the ropes and can help me, it played such a role in getting me acclimated.”
The last time these two teamed up, great things happened for the Hilltoppers. In 2017, TMLA won the GCHSAA ‘AA’ diocesan and city championships and went on to bring home the first-ever state ‘AA’ title in school history, with Patterson and Nixon leading the way.
As a senior team captain, Patterson, a Catholic Youth Organization product of St. Mary Gate of Heaven, Ozone Park, averaged a double-double with 23.0 pts., 11 rebounds and four assists per game. Her stellar campaign led her to being named the first All-American in TMLA history. She also was named to The Tablet’s All-Star team for a second straight year.
When it was Nixon’s turn to be team captain as a senior, she did not disappoint. The Harlem native averaged 22.0 pts., six rebounds, four assists and three steals en route to being named an All-American, Miss New York Basketball and a Tablet All-Star for the second time.
Patterson, now a sophomore at Notre Dame, said she was ecstatic when she found out that fellow Hilltopper Nixon would be joining her in South Bend.
“It’s super rare,” Patterson said. “Getting a taste of it last year was something wonderful, and this year I hope we both get to experience it together like we experienced three championships in high school.”
Nixon said she was inspired to experience Patterson’s journey as an All-American and is glad to be following in her footsteps on the basketball court and in the college classroom.
“I think she’s (Patterson) tremendous as a person and as a player,” said Nixon. “I had the opportunity to play with her during her final year of high school, and that was amazing. Now to have the opportunity to do it for the next three years is going to be amazing. I’m just going to savor every moment and just take it one day at a time.”
For TMLA, it’s been very rewarding to see these two student-athletes continue their sports careers at one of the most renowned Catholic institutions in the country.
“Mary Louis has come a long way over the 12 years that I’ve been there,” said head varsity coach JoAnn Arbitello-Pinnock. “I’ve been coaching 28 years, and I’ve never experienced two young ladies like Danielle Patterson and Jordan Nixon. They are definitely very talented young ladies.
“Off the court, their character speaks for itself. So a school like Notre Dame…everything that Danielle and Jordan are is what Notre Dame is.”
If Notre Dame plans to get back atop the hill of women’s college basketball, certainly having a few former Hilltoppers around is a good start.
For now though, these All-Americans will enjoy the ride this season, as this extremely unique situation continues to take shape.
Contact Jim Mancari via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.