If you are familiar with New York high school girls’ basketball, then you would know the name Nicole Melious, a junior at Susan Wagner High School on Staten Island and a member of Hoopers NY AAU squad.
Melious has already committed to Georgie Tech Women’s Basketball program, and has a good shot of hitting the 2000-point PSAL scoring mark, with two years of high school hoops left in her career.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Melious and get to know her a little better. As elite as she is of a basketball player, she is even a better person and one of the hardest working student-athletes I have come across in my time as a sports writer.
1. When did you start playing basketball?
Third grade in my school league on Staten Island.
2. Who get you into the sport?
Candice Bellochio. She played for Hofstra University and played over seas. She was a great player and role model who taught me about fitness and the game at a young age. I’m forever grateful to her .
3. Where in Staten Island are you from, live?
Richmond Town, center of Staten Island.
4. Why did you pick No. 10? And college No. 32?
I picked number 10 also for Candice and Dara Mabrey. Both (of) my role models wore same number. 32 was my middle school number at St. Teresa. We won back-to-back state championships.
5. What’s your connection to Dara Mabrey (Notre Dame and Belmar, N.J., native), and how has she helped influence you?
Dara is like a big sister. She gives me advice on a lot of things. This past summer, she really got into a lot with me. I think we play similar and she can give me a lot of insight into (ACC) Atlantic Coast Conference-style of play and things I need to work on.
6. After earning a commitment to Georgia Tech, what are your next goals?
My next goals are to work hard on the things I need to so I can play at the next level: speed, strength, and agility. (Plus), getting my handle tight and keeping my scoring mentality at all times.
7. What was the commitment process like for you?
It was definitely interesting. Georgia Tech was an easy choice because of Head Coach (Nelle) Fortner, the current Women’s Coach at Georgia Tech. She’s a legend. She always made time to talk. I feel we have a great relationship already and it will only get better. I trust her so much. I also enjoy coach Blanche Tasha and Page. Playing in (the) best conference in the world. That’s what’s it’s about. Campus is beautiful, the academics are top notch.
8. How does it feel to get an invite to attend Coach Wooten’s camp?
It’s definitely an honor to be included with the country’s best. I get to compete and meet some of the best players around.
9. How do you like playing for Wagner and Coach Rizzo?
Playing for Coach Rizzo and Wagner is a lot of fun. I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else. Coach Rizzo and I really trust each other. He believed in me from day one. He’s hard on me if I mess up but I know he cares about me. He actually coached me in seventh grade elite league game. I took two half court threes. He thought I was nuts–they went in–and he’s like, “ok.”
Now, he and Greg Percoco (my Catholic Youth Organization coach) mean the world to me. Coach Rizzo and I have unfinished business. I know he will always be in my life. I love being a Wagner Falcon. People asked me to transfer during the pandemic. I wouldn’t even think of it. Mainly because of Coach Rizzo and my teammates, Sam Harrell, Siniyah Wilkerson, Audrey Bonoan, Gianna Megna, and Lex Anderson. We got to know each other over the summer. It’s my team and we will push each other. We work hard and have lots of fun doing it.
10. Who are some trainers that really help you and how?
First and foremost, Gerry Mosley and Azeem Wilkerson. They are like family to me. Gerry taught me to shoot and make shots. Gerry had me since second grade. I would be no where without my shot, and that comes from hours of work with Gerry. Gerry was there for me throughout COVID. With Azeem, he would not let me fail. Gerry has high expectations for me. He’s always there for me. I’ve trained with him the most. Azeem Wilkerson is my dad’s (Dan Melious) best friend. He is like a big brother/uncle to me. He does so much for me, like gets me in shape, motivates me, and is always there for me, albeit conditioning and basketball. He’s also coached me in seventh grade. Azeem will get on me if I’m struggling and be there if I need someone to talk to. During (the) pandemic Azeem was there for me three to four hours a day.
(Plus), other trainers like Delson from (The) Patrick School. He works with Kyrie (Irvine of the Brooklyn Nets). His workouts are intense and he’s a G.O.A.T. He works on my ball-handling and finishing. He’s tough, and puts me against men (that) make me compete. This summer, he killed me, but did it on his lunch break at camp . He is there for his players. Anyone that goes to his workouts is good and will make you better. Coach Delson really challenges me all the time and will get on me till I get better. Coach Fortner loves his routines.
Mark williams of Footprintz. He’s a great game-trainer. All his sessions are taught to be ready to play against top competition and to succeed. He’s tough as well.
Last but not least, Jermaine Anthony and Sal Fabozzi. Jermaine works me two hours a day, few times a week, from combo moves to crafty finishes, to game-type shooting. Jermaine is a great player and he’s intense. He’s like a big brother. I know Jermaine always has my back and has shown it already. Jermaine definitely helped me a lot. I trust him!
Coach Sal made me a point guard. Sal, along with Gerry and Azeem, spent the most time with me. Sal increased my IQ handle and skill set. He worked me 10-12 hours a week since sixth grade. Sal taught me to finish with contact, and he’s very knowledgeable.
— Jerry Del Priore
(Photos: Dan Melious, and top one: Jerry Del Priore).