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Senior hopes to make some history at El Cajon Valley

02/08/2013, 9:06pm PST
By Bill Dickens SPECIAL TO THE U-T

Sharpshooting guard leads way as Braves try to win school’s first boys basketball title.

Senior guard Andre Nikkita is averaging 27.6 points a game for El Cajon Valley.

— Senior guard Andre Nikkita of El Cajon Valley High is not impressed by his blue-chip statistics. His focus is on directing the Braves to their first boys basketball league championship in the 58-year history of the school.

“I’d rather average 10 to 15 points a game and have our team win every time out,” said the 6-foot-1 Nikkita, who transferred from San Diego High when his mother Natasha started a new job in East County.

Nikkita averages 27.6 points per game, is a 68 percent free throw shooter on 191 chances, pulls down 5.3 rebounds (with a 42-inch vertical leap), dishes 2.6 assists and records 1.8 steals per game. Those numbers rank with the best in the San Diego Section.

The 17-year-old floor leader has the Braves (17-8, 5-1) sitting atop the Grossmont Valley League with two games left in the regular season.

“I can’t think of anything more exciting than coming back to our 10-year reunion and seeing our picture up there as the first league basketball champions,” Nikkita said. “That’s the goal — to make that picture possible.”

Nikkita, whose contributions on the court are as diverse as his Japanese, African-American and Russian ancestry, is a solid student whom Grossmont Conference coaches view as a stealth, all-star performer.

“He does things that look effortless,” said Monte Vista coach James Carroll, whose Monarchs split four games with the Braves this season. “But once you check the stat lines his numbers are way higher than you might have thought they were.

“He could be selfish and shoot the ball every time because he is that good. But he doesn’t just chuck up shots. He distributes the ball extremely well and involves his teammates. When he moves, he just glides — has a quick first step.”

Virtually all the coaches in the Grossmont Conference regard Nikkita as an even-keeled player.

“He doesn’t say a word, just goes about his business,” Carroll added. “He wants to win and knows how to do it.”

Nikkita said football used to be his favorite game. In his freshman and sophomore years with the Cavers he played every position but offensive and defensive line.

“I really thought my future was going to be in football,” he said. “But now obviously my focus has shifted to basketball.”

Another fan is Santana coach Tim Barry, who believes Nikkita has a promising basketball future.

“He’s the ultimate team player,” Barry said. “He has rejuvenated the lost art of the midrange jumper (12-16 feet). But he is certainly capable of taking people off the dribble and hitting the 3-pointer when needed.”

Fourth-year El Cajon Valley coach Marty Ellis, a former all-section player at Monte Vista, makes it clear that Nikkita could be a big-time 3-point shooter if that’s what the Braves needed.

“We had a 3-on-3 scrimmage a while back and Dre couldn’t miss from 3-point range,” Ellis said. “But he knows we have other 3-point shooters.”

Helix coach John Singer probably sums it up best.

“He knows how to make the players around him better and make his team win, and that’s the bottom line,” said Singer, whose Highlanders were beaten by the Braves 48-38.

Ellis is quick to note that “nobody knew Dre Nikkita last year, but let me tell you, he’s the real deal.”

College coaches have taken note and are starting to attend El Cajon Valley games regularly.

“I’m open to anything,” Nikkita said. “I just want a chance.”

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