At one time, Michael Dixon was one of the top guards in Division I basketball during his time at Missouri. Honestly, he is still that same studded guard, but now he is on the rebound trail. Last winter, he had paid a guy $5 to rebound his missed shots at a 24 Hour Fitness gym while the Missouri team he had been expected to lead played without him.
At the time, Dixon was not on a team’s roster, no longer enrolled in school, and he was just out there drowning day-by-day.
“It’s a blessing to be here,” said Dixon, who transferred this month to the University of Memphis, where he’s hoping the NCAA will allow him to play as a senior this season.
“I don’t think these guys know how good they have it, being a scholarship student-athlete, because it can get taken away from you — however — like that.”
As for Dixon, his days at Missouri were taken away from him after he was accused twice of sexual assault in 2 1/2 years at Missouri. The only good thing about it was that no charges were filed in either case. Missouri ended up declining to lift an indefinite suspension of Dixon. In the end, Dixon and Missouri decided to part ways in November of last year.
After missing an entire season of college hoops, Dixon must now wait for the NCAA to grant him his final wish and that is to receive a waiver that will allow him to play as a senior. If he doesn’t receive the waiver, then his collegiate career will be over.
Just like Dixon, Dez Wells was in the same situation. Wells was accused of sexual assault while he was at Xavier, but was never charged. The difference between Well’s situation and Dixon’s is that Wells was only in his second year in college. This means if he wasn’t granted a waiver by the NCAA, then he could’ve missed a year and came back the following season.
Dixon, unfortunately, does not have the same option as Wells. The NCAA has a five- year rule, which states that the student-athletes have only five years to complete four seasons of eligibility.
So for Dixon, it’s either go hard or go home.
“I just lay down every day and I pray to God and just keep it in God’s hands,” said Dixon. “I try not to stress about it really too much because I think with the precedent, I just don’t see how they could tell me that I wouldn’t be allowed to play.”
If people have forgotten, Dixon was an awesome guard.
Just last October, Sporting News named him a preseason second-team All-American following a junior season at Missouri in which he averaged 13.5 points and 3.3 assists as one of the nation’s top sixth men.
Thus far, at the summer workouts with his new teammates at Memphis, Dixon has been sharp and consistent.
In a pickup game last week, he gave the newcomer Austin Nichols some advice. Dixon told Nichols “Hey, as soon as we score just sprint back, OK?” After that, Dixon gave up a layup to senior guard Joe Jackson, then he came out with “My fault, y’all. My fault.” It was okay because, he won the game for his teammates by shooting the game-winning three pointer in a best-of-five series.
“It’s good to finally get back into a routine. Being off for half a year, trying to do everything on your own as far as conditioning and your skill work — the competitiveness is the hardest thing to keep,” said Dixon, who says he’s only about 70 percent in terms of game shape at this point.
“Now, getting back in here with these guys, you’ve got three, maybe four all-conference-caliber players. It’s just going to make me better. They ain’t giving me anything. It really helps me and just makes me want to get in the gym more because, as of today, I’m not where I should be, but I know I’m going to get there.”
Dixon mentioned that he has learned a lot from his days at Missouri.
Because of his past, he know he’s operating under a zero-tolerance policy at Memphis, where coach Pastner has told Dixon “he has to be a model citizen.”
“You gotta stay focused, get your priorities in order and keep them in order because it’s easy to be in college and get sidetracked. Distractions are everywhere,” said Dixon. “You’ve really just gotta think, ‘school, basketball. school, basketball,’ and just keep going. It’s a mentally tough thing to be able to balance those things.
“And then everybody’s patting you on the back. It’s easy to get complacent, and that’s something I’m never gonna be again in my life.”
Pastner will not let Dixon forget it, either.
After practices, Pastner always speak to the team about sexual assault, avoiding confrontation and doing the right thing. Pastner said Dixon told him afterward that he appreciated his words.
“I’m expecting and holding him fully accountable to be a model citizen,” said Pastner. “It’s emphasized and reinforced on a daily basis to our young men how important it is to represent that jersey, not only on the floor but off the floor.
“Anyone that’s going to play for me is going to fully understand and know what the expectations are here.”
I received this information from the Commercial Appeal.