The Memphis Tigers avoided a case of the Mondays this week with word that incoming freshman forward Kuran Iverson had been cleared academically by the NCAA to play for the 2013-14 season. After speculation that the cousin of former NBA All-Star Allen Iverson may not be granted eligibility for academic issues, the news for the Tigers is big, as Iverson will help fill the void of departed forward Adonis Thomas.
However, Iverson was not the only Tiger awaiting news from the NCAA on his eligibility status. RaShawn “Pookie” Powell, a four-star recruit rated No.95 nationally by Rivals.com and senior Missouri Tigers guard transfer Michael Dixon, the 2012 Big XII Defensive Player of the Year, both are still awaiting decisions from the NCAA on whether they will be eligible this season.
Powell, an Orlando, Fla., native, struggled with academics during high school, and it spilled over into the summer. Powell and head coach Josh Pastner have remained optimistic that he will qualify, but the longer the NCAA takes to make a decision, fans become more and more worrisome. The decision on Powell looks as if it will not come until August. If it were not for the Tigers’ loaded recruiting class for 2013, the Powell saga would be a much bigger deal, but even if he does not qualify academically, Memphis will still have plenty of weapons in the backcourt. If he is granted eligibility, the Tigers get another offensive asset, as Powell was a prolific scorer at Dr. Phillips High School.
Dixon’s story follows a much different path. As the sixth man for Missouri in 2011-12, Dixon averaged 13.5 points and 3.3 assists per game and was regarded as a shut down defender. He was then kicked off the team in November last year after being accused, for the second time since January of 2010, of sexual assault by a female student. Though Dixon was never charged in either case, Missouri decided to part ways. Dixon then sat out the rest of the year and announced he would transfer to Memphis for this season.
Dixon may never step on the court, though, as the only way he will have another year of college ball is if the NCAA grants him a waiver to play. Dixon’s situation will also not be determined for some time, as The Commercial Appeal reported the Tigers had not even filed a petition yet to grant Dixon another year of eligibility. The good news for Dixon, though, is that Maryland‘s Dez Wells, who lead the team in scoring this past year, also went through a similar scenario, being expelled from Xavier for sexual assault charges and then granted immediate eligibility after the NCAA found the school acted too swiftly on a case where he was never charged either. There is a very good chance Dixon will be on the court for Memphis this fall, and if so, he would be a serious candidate to start at point guard and be one of the best in the country.
With the cases of Dixon and Powell still pending, the news of Iverson officially joining the team is big. At 6-foot-9, Iverson plays more like a guard, which was why he flourishes at small forward. Iverson will fit right into the Tigers’ up-and-down style of play and is a very good ball-handler for his size with shooting range. If Dixon and Powell receive eligibility, Memphis could challenge Louisville for the AAC title and make a deep run in March.