Memphis Tigers Player Profile: Michael Dixon

By Bryan Heater
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Dixon Jr., SR, G
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 200 pounds
Birth Date: December 1, 1990
Hometown: Kansas City, MO
Last Season Stats (2011-12, Missouri): 13.5 PPG, 3.3 APG, 1.8 RPG and 1.2 SPG

Michael Dixon is a unique story that most have heard by now. But, for those who haven’t, here’s a quick rundown of how he joined the Memphis Tigers. After a junior year for the Missouri Tigers in which he was named the Big XII Sixth Man of the Year, Dixon was accused of his second sexual assault in a year’s time. Though he was never charged in either case, Missouri kicked him off the team right before the season and he sat out last year.

He then elected to transfer to Memphis and after a long, painstaking wait, the NCAA granted him eligibility for a fifth year. Dixon admitted to crying upon getting the news from head coach Josh Pastner. He’s a good kid that put himself in bad situations, but Pastner is known to take in troubled guys and help turn them around, though it doesn’t seem like Dixon will need much guidance to stay out of trouble.

He was genuine in his thankfulness that he got this second chance and Pastner wouldn’t have wanted him had he thought Dixon was a bad person. His past is his past, and now that you’re all caught up with his path to Memphis, we’ll leave it that way. So, the real question is what will he bring to the Tigers?

Dixon played point guard while at Missouri, a position he’ll mostly play at Memphis too. He’s a very good passer and can create shots for teammates, as well as find the open man when driving to the basket. The one thing he really needs to work on is his turnovers. He averaged 1.6 a game as a junior and while a 2-1 assists-turnover ratio isn’t bad, he can stand to cut that number down.

He joins a deep, talented and veteran-laden Tigers backcourt. A lot of guys would have trouble finding playing time on this unit after transferring in, but Dixon won’t have that problem. You can expect him to make a huge impact on this team. He took a very good backcourt and made it scary by gaining eligibility for one more year.

The fifth-year senior has a great chance to start and even if he doesn’t, he will be a pivotal key to the success of Memphis.

His 13.5 PPG and 3.3 APG were from off the bench, and in 26.7 minutes per game. Dixon is a great scorer and like fellow senior Joe Jackson, he has an innate ability to get to the rim. That’s indicated by his 48.7 field goal percentage in his junior year and his career mark of 45.3. He’s not a great 3-point shooter, but he has never shot below 35.5 percent from downtown in a season and can hurt opponents when given space.

It also should be noted that Dixon is very good off the dribble and is another speedy guard that often blows by defenders. Like most point guards, he has good ball-handling skills. What Pastner really likes and what fans will love is that he’s not a shooting guard playing the one — he’s a pure point guard. Expect his assists numbers to take a big jump as he will have a slew of options to dish the ball to.

Dixon should thrive in Pastner’s style, as he played for Mike Anderson and the 40-Minutes-of- Hell pace. One aspect guards learn in that frantically-paced style is up-close-and-personal defense. It teaches constant ball pressure, active hands and creating turnovers for easy fast-break points.

So in other words, the only thing changing for Dixon is the Memphis instead of Missouri in front of Tigers.

He gives the Tigers an extremely talented backcourt that will have starting-caliber players off the bench. Pastner said to expect Memphis to play a four-guard set at times this year, which should be a delight to watch, as should Dixon. The Tigers are in the team’s first year in the AAC and have been tabbed as the No. 2 team in the conference by most media outlets.

Adding Dixon to an already loaded set of guards makes Memphis a legitimate threat to spoil the Louisville Cardinals‘ lone season in the conference and win the AAC title.

Bryan Heater is an AAC basketball and football columnist for Follow him on Twitter, like him on Facebook or add him to your  Google network.

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