We roll through the Bearcats Blog Countdown with the most recent member of the list, my best friend Dion Dixon. Was he really one of the best Bearcats of the modern era? No one played more games than him. Also, there is a large bit of bias to Dixon for being my best friend and for being on 2 of the most enjoyable Bearcats teams in a long time. It happens. A large part of this was lifted from this February piece about Dixon.
Dion Dixon played in every game his freshman season, starting 5, playing 22 minutes a game, averaging 7.3 points. He was 76-204 from the field, 37%. He was 36-118 from 3, 30.5%. Dion wasn't a good foul shooter, 46-69, 67%. Lowest of his career. Dixon used 19.1% of the UC possessions with a 104.3 offensive rating. He averaged 3 boards a game, 2nd best of his career. The 1.84 a game on the defensive end is still his career high. He had 44 assists to 36 turnovers, a solid 1.2 A/T ratio. Dixon had 16 steals. He blocked 5 shots. Dion fouled out of a game that year, the only time in his career he's done that.
The year I made the statement Dixon was my best friend was the worst of his career. Thick and thin. The only 2 games he's ever sat out happened that year. He played 16 minutes a game with 4.9 points. He was 54-154, 35% from the field. A horrible 14-65, 21.5% from 3. The free throw game stepped up t 39-52, 75%. He used 19.5% of the possessions with a 97.1 offensive rating. That's by far his career low. Dion followed that with a career low 2 boards a game. He had 36 assists to 30 turnovers. He did match his total of 16 steals. But for the most part, it was a year of learning the hard way for Dixon.
Many thought Dixon would have a breakout year his junior year, and break out he did. He started 29 of the 35 games, playing 27 minutes a game with 11.6 points. He was 132-318, 41%. He hit 48-135, 36% from 3. He upped the free throw game to 93-122, 76%. He upped the possession usage to 22.3%, but had a a career best 113.4 offensive rating. All the shooting percentages were also career highs. The 3 point percentage especially. Dixon improved the rebound from his sophomore year, but only to 2.9 a game, still below his freshman level. He had 65 assists to 44 turnovers for a career best 1.5 A/T ratio. He upped the defense to get 36 steals. He blocked 1 shot. Dixon was invaluable to the Bearcats. His 6.9 +/- was 22nd in the Big East. More was expected of him his senior year.
Dixon started all 37 games this season, playing 34 minutes and scoring 13 points a game. He's 159-429, 37% from the field. He's 47-180, 26% from 3. Dixon is 116-166, 70% at the foul line. Noticeable drop offs in all percentages. He has stepped his possession pct a 3rd straight season to 22.9% with an offensive rating of 100.9. Dion has already set a career best in rebounding with 126, 3.4 a game. His 1.8 offensive rebounds a game are a career high. He got a career low 5.5% of defensive rebounds. He had 76 assists for a career high, finishing at 76 with 67 turnovers. That was a career worse 1.1 A/T ratio. He continued to get better at steals. Dixon ranked 8th in the Big East with 60. He was 12th with 1.6 a game. He blocked a career best 17 shots. That's more than the last 3 years combined. He was very valuable to the Cats. His plus minus is 229, 20th in the league.
Dion Dixon started his Bearcat career making some noise. He had 8 in the opener and 10 rebounds in the second game of the year, followed by 5-5-2 blocks. Dixon had a couple of quiet games before sparking UC with 13 points on 5-7 shooting in a win over UNLV. That was followed with another 5-5 and 11 points in a Shootout loss to Xavier. After an 0-8 game, Dixon had 14 against Mississippi State at a game I attended. He put up 8-8 and 11 the next 2 games, then conference play started. Dixon's role stayed the same, but the attempts would vary. He had 4, 3, 8, 7, 7, and 5 before breaking out for 14 against Providence. He would add solid minutes off the bench in the next 4 games. Dixon busted out three 10 point games in a row against St John's, Pittsburgh and Louisville. He put up a then career best 18 in a blowout at Syracuse. He ended the year making 3 of 18 shots.
Dixon started his sophomore year quietly the first 2 games before the Vandy explosion in Maui. He had 12 points and 10 boards, his first double double. He was a huge boost off the bench. That went for the next game against Maryland, where he had 8-5. Dixon didn't have a great game against Gonzaga, 2-8, but bounced back for 13 on 5-7 with 3 assists on the mainland. He had a decent 8-4 game against Miami, then went off for 13 against UAB and 15 against Longwood. Dion had 9 the next game, 4 assists after that and back to back 6 point games to start Big East play. He had 13 against Cal St Bakersfield and then the sporadic playing time came. Along with that was missing shots. He went 2-15 the next 3 games with 7 points. He had 6 in a win over USF on January 20 and then didn't score until February 13. He played 32 minutes against Marquette with 12 points, but followed with 3 on 1-7 shooting against DePaul. He wouldn't score from Feb 24-March 11 against West Virginia in the BET. That's the infamous dribble off the foot with the game tied late, that gave Butler the chance to win the game game. It sucked. Dixon scored 2 against Weber St in the NIT and only played 5 against Dayton to close the year.
Dion's junior year opened with a 3 point, 6 rebound game. He scored 10 and 14 the next 2 and 9 in the 4th. Dixon broke out in a big way over Dayton. He scored 20 points on 7-12 shooting. He was outscoring Dayton with 13 minutes left in the game when he took a seat. Dixon continued the roll through December. He scored 11, 17, 15, 12 and 12 at Oklahoma. The best game of his career came against Miami in Millett Hall. Dixon went off for 23 on 7-16 shooting, 8-10 from the foul line. He added 7 boards. The 23 points is still his career high. Dixon opened up Big East play with 16 against DePaul before 9 against Seton Hall. He pumped in 16 with 9 boards in the Xavier win, but followed with 8 on 3-14. He put down 11, 18 and 10 the next 3 games before hitting the wall. After a 3-12 WV game, Dixon scored 0 and 4 the next 2 while playing around 20 minutes. He came back to score 12 on 4-12 in a St John's loss, but had 2 in the Louisville win. Dixon finally broke out of his funk to close the year. He had 16 against Providence, 17 against Georgetown, 7 against UConn, 12 against Marquette and 14 to close the regular season against Georgetown. As tournament play started, Dixon stepped up his game even more. He had 21-6 against South Florida and 15 of the 51 against Notre Dame. Dion had a very successful NCAA tournament debut, 16-6 against Missouri. He only took 2 shots and 3 free throws against UConn though. Dixon ended the year playing very well.
Dion Dixon was expected to be a senior leader on this year's squad. He came out of the box accepting that responsibility scoring wise. He had 14 in the opener followed by 20-9. He was 3-12 for 7 points with 10 boards in Presbyterian upset. He had a row of solid games, 12, 12, 10, before putting the team on his back against Georgia. Dixon scored 19 on 6-11 shooting with 4 boards and 3 steals. He had a rough game in the shootout, 14 on 4-16. With the suspensions handed down, Dixon honed his game. He had 10 against Wright St, 15 on 5-7 shooting, 16-6-5 assists-4 steals against UAPB and 11 against Chicago St. In a game UC had trouble scoring, Dixon had 18 against Oklahoma. He put up 13-5 in the Big East opener at Pitt. He had 18 more, 7-7 from the foul line, in the home opener against ND. The fun run came to an end with one of the worst games of his career, 0-8, 0 points against St John's in a loss. Dixon came back hard the next 2 games. He scored 22 on 8-15 with 4 steals against Georgetown and 22 on 7-19 against Villanova. Dixon struggled a bit the next 3 games, 12 on 4-17, 12 on 5-18 and 5 on 2-10. He had a career best 9 assists in the West Virginia loss. Dixon had strong scoring games against Rutgers, 17 on 6-10, and DePaul, 16, 8-8 at the foul line. Dion had 10 in the St John's blowout before scoring 15 in the Marquette blowout the other way. Dixon was quiet against PC, 7, but picked it back up in a big win over Seton Hall, 20-6-5 assists. Dixon scored 11 on 3-12 shooting against Louisville and 5 on 2-9 against USF. Dixon rallied to score 21 points with 4 steals in the senior night win over Marquette.
Dixon had 14 big ones in a 4 point win over Villanova to kick off the Big East tournament, on 4-9 shooting. He shot terribly in the Georgetown OT classic, 4-17, 5-9 at the line, but had 13 points and 8 boards in the win. Dixon had 11 on 5-8 as the Bearcats knocked off Syracuse. Like nearly everyone else, he was cold against Louisville. He hit 2-8 for 4 points. He did have 3 steals. Dixon got off to a solid start in the NCAA tournament. He had 12 against Texas on 4-9. Dixon had 15 points on 5-14 shooting against FSU, but his last bucket was the biggest. He made a steal and put a dunk down to seal the win for Cincinnati. It was his greatest moment as a Bearcat. Dixon went out with 8 points on 3-10 against OSU.
Why He Made the List
One of the seniors from this Bearcats team was going to be on the list. That much was very simple. The choice was easier to make than you would expect. Dion Dixon may not have been the perfect player, but he came up the way Bearcats did in the past. He was a reserve. Then he got a little more minutes. When he finally started, he produced. He was a big part of the team. He was a leader on and maybe off the court. The reason that he made the list and Yancy Gates did not is because there was no controversy with Dixon. He didn't walk out on the team. He didn't give the peace sign to the cameras after fouling out. He didn't punch an opposing player. He didn't get suspended and throw the season in turmoil. Like I said, one of the seniors had to be on the list. That senior is Dion Dixon.
Dixon ranks this low on the list because he wasn't necessarily one of the best Bearcats ever. He was certainly one of my favorites, which landed him on the list. He was on memorable teams. I think he's going to be someone fondly remembered around Cincinnati after his playing days are over. Or he will vanish and this entry on the list is going to be weird in 25 years. I hope that doesn't happen.
What He's Doing Now
Probably getting ready to play basketball overseas somewhere. Good luck to him.