A recent standout at the La Porte Invitational and Hoophall Classic, 2025 four-star Nigel James, Jr. is a shifty guard with elite finishing ability. A multi-level scoring threat, the junior has enjoyed a productive season with Long Island Lutheran (NY) in the Nike EYBL Scholastic league, accumulating over 15 college offers (and counting) in the process.
In this interview with Pro Insight’s Conrad Chow, James discussed the opportunity to attend powerhouse program LuHi, his winning mentality, studying Donovan Mitchell’s game, his dream NIL deal, and much more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2025 prospect Nigel James, Jr., from Long Island, New York:
Pro Insight: How did you get to where you are today? Talk a bit about your background and family.
Nigel James, Jr.: I grew up playing basketball. My dad played and he surrounded me with a lot of basketball. I played with a lot of city kids growing up. He used to coach me with New Heights when I was little, so I always grew up around basketball, ‘cause basketball is big in New York City, and I just fell in love with it and kept playing basketball to where I am today.
PI: Did you play any other sports growing up?
NJ: Yes, I played lacrosse and football. Football was my main sport when I was little, but then as I got older, I saw basketball more as something that I enjoyed playing.
PI: You mentioned that your dad coached you for a bit. Any other athletes in the family?
NJ: Like my uncles, they played basketball, but nothing really to the extreme that's really that known, but yeah.
PI: Prior to LuHi, you were at Cushing Academy (MA). What was that experience like for you?
NJ: Yeah, it was a boarding school in NEPSAC. It was a great experience. I loved playing at Cushing. I had great relationships with my coaches there, Coach Cormier and Coach Fabian. It was like my first time really being able to play high school basketball, which is at Cushing and we got to the AA Championship. We lost to Worcester Academy (MA), but I learned a lot there. It's a great program, a great place and I always got love for them.
PI: How did the opportunity come about to attend LuHi?
NJ: Well, my dad's been close with our assistant coach Josh [Corbin], since before I was born, so they've always been close. Once we moved to Long Island, they heard I was thinking about finding another school to play closer to home, too. They reached out and said they needed a point guard ‘cause one of my friends who was their point guard, Jayden Reid, he was leaving — so they needed a point guard and they said they wanted me, so that's where I am.
PI: How has the experience at LuHi been so far playing with such a talented group?
NJ: Yeah, a lot of talent. Everyone's talented on my team. Everyone can put the ball in the hole and knows how to help us win. It's been great. I've grown a lot and built a lot of relationships with this team, with a lot of the players and like synergy is a big part of what we are and it's getting better day-by-day. I love playing with everybody like top players in the country like VJ [Edgecombe]. I like playing with him. I love playing with Kiyan Anthony, Kayden Mingo and the rest of my team just…Alier Maluk, everyone from the starting five to the bench. I have great synergy and great chemistry with everybody and I love being here.
PI: How easy or difficult was it to adjust to the depth of talent around you and your role within the team?
NJ: I wouldn't say it was too hard. It was something that I was willing to come into because I know that at this level there's a lot of people that know basketball and know how to score. Playing with this team, it's been something that I'm proud of because I learned how to play with these people. Within the first few months I've been there, we've built so much chemistry and I don't have to always worry about whether I have to work extra to help us win. I know my teammates are going to do what they have to do — and they always do — and they're all really talented, so I trust them.
PI: How would you describe LuHi? What separates the program from other schools?
NJ: Yeah, the culture here is really like a family culture with all the students. It doesn't even have to be basketball-related. If you just go there for school, like it's just such a family type of environment and everybody loves to be there. Everybody's excited to be there. Like, you don't have to know someone and you just greet them. Everyone's just cool and understands that we're all here to better each other and we're here for each other.
PI: For those who aren’t familiar with your game, what are your greatest strengths and playstyle?
NJ: I'm aggressive. I’m an aggressive player. I like to win, so I’m very intense when I play and I play with a chip on my shoulder, always trying to help my team win, doing whatever I can. If I have to shoot the ball, hit threes, make plays for others, I'm there to do whatever I have to do and I’m just someone that you know is not going to take losing for an answer. I hate losing. So someone that always wants to win and is gonna help my team win.
PI: Who do you model your game after or study on film?
NJ: I watch Donovan Mitchell a lot. He’s someone that I feel like I could fit my game into and that's really it. I watch a lot of NBA highlights. I watch different people, pick pieces from different players and stuff like that.
PI: Do you have a specific training regimen? Who do you train with?
NJ: I train with my trainer, Jerry Powell. I've been training with him my whole life, so me and him just work out. We work out as much as we can, especially in season it's harder, but we work out every day pretty much and just getting reps and shots and building confidence.
PI: What are your short term goals you have for yourself as a player?
NJ: To win GEICO Nationals, the national championship. So that would be it.
PI: You’re running it back with Expressions Elite (MA) — describe your experience on the EYBL circuit.
NJ: It's different from high school, obviously. Playing in the EYBL, you have four games this weekend instead of like two every week. I like AAU. It’s fun. I like it. I'm just really focused on the high school season, right now. Trying to win as many games as we can and get as far as we can.
PI: Let’s turn to your recruitment a bit. You’ve taken a few official visits?
NJ: I've taken four officials, yes.
PI: What’s your recruitment update? Who have you been hearing from the most, lately?
NJ: The schools that I've been talking to are Syracuse, Providence, Rutgers, and Marquette. Those schools have been reaching out the most and I've had some other schools reach out also like Indiana, Alabama, and LSU — they have reached out, but I haven't really engaged with too many schools like outside of the high school season right now because really you can't do no visits and nothing during the season. So I've really just been focused on the high school season.
PI: Are there any programs you are hoping to visit in the near future?
NJ: No, there's no schools really. If a school comes to me, then that's something different. But I'm not really looking for anything. I'm just playing it by ear — how basketball goes and how my journey goes.
PI: Which college coach would you say you’ve formed the closest relationship with and why?
NJ: I don't know. I really don't. All the coaches have been showing me love equally and reaching out as much as they can and just recruiting me as best as they can. I really can't pick one, I wouldn't say.
PI: What will ultimately be your deciding factors when making your college decision?
NJ: Obviously somewhere that wins, because I want to go to a winning environment and also help them win. Somewhere that's big on relationships. So somewhere I can feel comfortable and where I feel I can be myself at.
PI: Any unique hobbies or interests outside of basketball?
NJ: Unique hobbies? Nah, I don't think I have any (laughs). Yeah, I like to collect shoes. That's it.
PI: What are some of your favorite shoes both on-court and off-court? NJ: On-court, Kobes. Off-court, Jordans.
PI: Who are your favorite music artists?
NJ: That's hard. Hold on, favorite music artist…I would probably say I like Yeat a lot or Ken Carson.
PI: What is your favorite snack?
NJ: Fruit. Super simple. I don't eat snacks like that.
PI: If you were stuck forever on a deserted island and had all the food, water, and shelter you needed — what three personal items would you bring?
NJ: Three items. I’d bring a basketball, a hoop and a speaker.
PI: You have one hashtag to describe yourself. What is it?
NJ: #StayFierce. It's something that when I was up in Boston at school, me and my friends kind of made up. That was like a nickname for me. They used to call me Fierce and that just means, stay fierce. Pretty much stay aggressive and just show that you're a fierce person, like especially on the court. That's why I like to always live up to that phrase, “Stay Fierce,” so I would say that.
PI: If you weren’t pursuing a career as a professional hooper, what do you think you would choose to do?
NJ: I'd probably major in psychology or I'd be a scientist.
PI: What is your dream NIL deal and why?
NJ: I would say like Supreme or something. Yeah, Supreme would be cool.
PI: Besides the NBA, where do you see yourself in five years?
NJ: I see myself just growing as a person pretty much and just giving back to the kids just where I grew up at in Long Island and just being someone that's a killer and hopefully being a starting point guard in the NBA and being a leader of a team.
PI: Name four words that best describe you.
NJ: Fierce, energetic, caring, and empathetic.
PI: At the end of the day, what do you hope to be remembered for?
NJ: I want to be remembered as someone that really put their all into their craft and what they want to do with their life — someone that really was determined to win and determined to get better and grow as a person.