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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Thursday / November 21.
  • Eric Dixon impresses in last game before heading to Villanova

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    By RICH FLANAGAN

    SOUDERTON, Pa. — Eric Dixon remembers what it was like to work his way into the rotation as a freshman at Abington (Pa.).

    Playing on a roster stacked with seniors, he showcased much of what would eventually make him into a heralded prospect. The soft hands, the smooth jump shot, the tenacious rebounding ability and the ability to run the floor were some aspects of his game that showed the player he would become.

    The 6-foot-7, 275-pound forward earned his spot in the Galloping Ghosts rotation from day one but he knows when he arrives on the campus of Villanova University this summer that mentality of wanting to start as a true freshman must endure to compete for minutes.

    [Jay Wright] recruited me closely and it’s one of the reasons I picked there,” Dixon said. “It’s an open opportunity. If you show up in practice, especially over the summer and show you’re worthy of starting minutes then it’s going to happen.”

    Dixon scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds in helping lead Team Local to a 165-153 overtime victory over Team U.S.A. in the Scholastic Play-by-Play Classic Invitational at Souderton High School (Pa.) on Monday. After a slow start, Dixon helped spur his team in the fourth quarter with nine points including a pair of free throws that cut the lead to seven with under five minutes remaining. It was one of Dixon’s final games before he heads to the Main Line and he was able to team up with former Abington teammate Lucas Monroe (Pennsylvania) one last time.

    It was memorable senior season for Dixon where he averaged 27.9 points per game and 11.6 rebounds per game. He helped the Galloping Ghosts claim their third straight PIAA District 1 Class 6A Tournament title. He became the first 2,000-point scorer in Abington history and finished his career with 2,454 points. He’s a member of the Wildcats 2019 class coming in with a track record of winning, including IMG Academy (Fl.)’s Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Ranney School (N.J.)’s Bryan Antoine. and DeMatha Catholic (MD)’s Justin Moore.

    Robinson-Earl was a member of the Ascenders team that took home the GEICO High School National Championship on April 6 over No. 1 La Lumiere School (Ind.). He was named tournament MVP after helping win the first national title in any sport in school history. Antoine helped lift Ranney to the school’s first New Jersey Tournament of Champions title alongside Scottie Lewis (Florida). Each player was instrumental in their team bringing home a title this year.

    Antoine was slated to play for Stephen Jackson and Team Loyalty in the Iverson Roundball Classic on Friday but he suffered a minor injury and will not participate. Dixon was hoping to see his future teammate play with some of the best players in the country.

    “Of course I would’ve been there to watch him but I’ll probably still stop by anyway and see how he’s doing,” Dixon said.

    The Abington standout, who helped We R1 win the 59th Donofrio Classic in Conshocken last week, believes all of this success will translate well to the winning tradition at Villanova.

    “We’ve all had really successful senior seasons,” Dixon said. “We’ve been winning a lot of games and championships. Obviously, Jeremiah won the national championship. We’re excited to be playing together and playing with a group of winners. It’s a group that wants to win and one that isn’t individually based.”

    Dixon has been able to carry that winning mantra over from year to year with three district crowns. Still, after winning Pa. All-State 6A Player of the Year as a junior, there didn’t appear to be much in the way of improvement for Dixon but he saw a major part of his game that still needed his attention.

    “From junior to senior year, the biggest improvement was my mindset,” Dixon said. “At this point, you hear a lot that the game is more mental than physical and that’s true. At this level, everyone has the physical ability and the talent but it’s more of can you think about the game and see the spots in the defense.”

    Monday was his last opportunity to play with some of the local prospects he has had numerous battles with, particularly 7-3 Florida State commit Naheem McLeod (Plymouth Whitemarsh). With his left wrist taped up and having to come out of the game for a good portion of the second quarter, Dixon stressed that he’s going to take some time to rest and get his body ready for when he arrives on campus at Villanova.

    “It’s a thumb sprain,” Dixon said. “I also have a jammed ring finger. It’s been getting better. The thumb has been coming along. I’ll probably take a week off after this.”

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.