Ridgeway’s Elizabeth Dixon may be only a freshman. But she has a firm grounding in basketball history.
“I look up to (WNBA stars) Candace Parker, Brittney Griner,” she said. “Alonzo Mourning, even though he isn’t playing any more. (Hakeem) Olajuwon, Dikembe Mutombo, Michael Jordan.
“Those players gave me a lot of hope. I feel like I’m going to make an impact this year.”
Among college recruiters, she already has.
Despite the fact that she’s yet to play a high school varsity game, Dixon is already attracting some serious college attention, with Southern Miss, Mississippi State and Baylor among the interested schools.
And if Dixon’s personal hall of fame skews heavily toward post players, there’s a good reason. She’s already 6-4.
“She can dunk a tennis ball,” said her personal trainer, Scotty Mason. “I think by next year, when her muscles get stronger, she’ll be dunking. You can’t teach height.”
Dixon comes by her size naturally; her father and mother — natives of Nigeria — stand 6-6 and 6-0 respectively. And while she’s just starting to scratch the surface of her potential, she’s far from a gangly project.
“She’s got a great work ethic,” said Mason, who has worked with NBA players Elliot Williams, Jarvis Varnado and Terrico White, among others.
“She’s got a great attitude and a love for the game. She comes to work out twice a day and she’s up at 5 a.m.”
Said Dixon, “The attention makes me feel really good. I’ve only been playing since I was in the seventh grade (at Ridgeway Middle) and I didn’t even really play a lot until I got to eighth grade.
“I’ve gotten a lot stronger, especially with my rebounding, both offensively and defensively. My shooting needs to be a little better and I have to work on my ball-handling.”
Ball-handling isn’t a problem for another one of Mason’s promising young clients, Olive Branch point guard Myah Taylor. The 5-7 sophomore, who led the Quistors to a state runner-up finish last year, already has offers from Memphis, Baylor, Mississippi State, Southern Miss and Jackson State. Several other schools have shown interest.
“She’s a true point guard,” said Mason. “I’ll put her in drills with NBA players and sometimes — depending on the drill — she’ll even win.
“Her IQ, her understanding of the game is at a very high level. She just has those God-given attributes. It’s really rare.”
Taylor, who averaged 14 points and 6.4 assists last season, gives Mason the credit.
“I’m blessed to work with him,” she said. “He got me to where I am today. I couldn’t even really play before I started working with him. I’ve gotten stronger and I can attack the hole.
“I’ve gotten mentally tougher; I don’t crack under pressure.”