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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Ridgeway's Elizabeth Dixon rising in prep basketball

image and article from Commercial Appeal 

Ridgeway's Elizabeth Dixon has set some not-so-modest goals for the upcoming girls basketball season.

"I want to average 25 (points), 20 (rebounds) and 10 (blocks)," she said.

Um, okay. Anything else?


"I want to dunk." If the 6-4 Dixon does manage to throw one down in a game, she'll be the first girl in Memphis — and one of a few anywhere — to accomplish the feat. And it will also herald her arrival among the nation's best high school players, a distinction that looked unlikely just a few years ago.

Thanks to diligent work with local trainer Scotty Mason and an impressive showing on the EYBL summer circuit playing for the Tennessee Flight, Dixon will open the year ranked 20th nationally in the class of 2018 according to ESPN HoopGurlz. During the most recent visiting period, the Dixon family welcomed parade of college coaches, all eager to get Elizabeth's name on a national letter of intent.

As of early this month, Dixon's list included Ohio State, Florida State, Louisville, Kentucky, Tennessee, Baylor, Georgia Tech and Maryland. All the attention is causing her dad Richard to marvel at how far his youngest daughter has come.

"All these coaches, they intimidate me," he laughed. "Who am I? This summer was like the Super Bowl but Liz was just fantastic, so relaxed. She was an animal, 10 blocks, 12 blocks every game. I don't know where this comes from.

Dixon comes by her height naturally. Richard — who came to the United States from Nigeria to attend college before being "stranded" here — is 6-6 while her mom, also named Elizabeth, is 6-2. Brother Richard is 6-8 while another brother David, who also plays at Ridgeway, is 6-5.

The ability has been well-earned though; Richard is an implementations engineer at FedEx and when it comes to sports, well, he plays like an implementations engineer at FedEx.

"I can't run, I can't jump," he laughed. "I want to see the DNA because other than looking like me ... she can't be my daughter.

"Four years ago, she couldn't bounce the ball. We brought her to Scotty and he said 'trust me with this girl. In time she will be a tough player.' I call Scotty the miracle worker."

Mason — who has worked with a host of talented players from Jarvis Varnado and Randy Culpepper to current high school standouts Myah Taylor of Olive Branch and T.J. Moss at East — said his goal is to get Dixon to maximize her full potential. And not just as a tall presence in the paint.

Instead, he envisions her as a well-rounded performer who can shoot from outside and the handle the ball just as easily as post up. Combine that with her size and you have a nightmare for opposing coaches.

"She's a difference maker because at 6-5 ... she's so athletic. The women's game is getting more skilled and with her size and explosiveness, she'll be perfect for a high-major (school). She has everything you look for."

Elizabeth's Twitter profile says she's "probably in the gym right now" and the work is starting to pay off.

"I worked eight hours a day over the summer," she said. "At first, I was nervous playing with Tennessee Flight but I had a lot of fun. It was a good summer."

Said Mason, "The key with Liz has been taking different approaches. Skill work and also videos and researching the history of basketball. It's a little bit of everything. She wants to get better. She wants to be the best player in the world."

And she's been soaking up knowledge from the best players in the world.

"I watch videos of Tim Duncan for rebounding," she said. "Karl Malone for running the floor and Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan for their quick decision-making. Candace Parker. But really anything to help me get better."

This year, Dixon will be the focal point on a Ridgeway team that has lost of ton of senior talent over the last two classes. Her play will be vital of course but so will her leadership, something she's not had to do just yet.

"Being vocal is going to be harder," she said. "I'm not used to it but I'm going to have to step up."

Off the court, Dixon is an A student who tackles her academic responsibilities with the same diligence she brings to the court. It only takes a few minutes of talking to Richard Dixon to see how proud he is of her. And how amazed he is by her success to this point.

"In Africa we say, 'it takes a village' but I appreciate the American system too," he said. "At the Nike Nationals I was like 'please, don't kill her.' The other girls ... they were a tough bunch. It was a baptism of fire. But she dominated."

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