UIC forward Dikembe Dixson received a unanimous selection Tuesday as Horizon League Freshman of the Year from the conference’s head coaches, sports information directors and selected media.
Dixson averaged 19.9 points per game this season, ranking No. 3 in the Horizon League and in the top 35 nationally. That mark is also the second-best among freshmen in Division I. He also set a single-season freshman record for the conference with 576 points entering the Horizon League Tournament.
Critics have harped on Dixson’s low shooting percentages. The 6-foot-7 talent made only 37.1 percent of his field goals and 31.5 percent of his 3-pointers while jacking 4.5 treys per game. However, UIC, with an offense ranked No. 343 out of 351 Division I teams in efficiency, the Flames needed Dixson to be a high-volume shooter. Defenses knew this and always focused their primary attention on him.
Dixson improved over the course of the season and averaged 23.3 points per game in Horizon League play.
“He just continues to amaze me with how he can get to the rim and yet everybody knows he’s going there, and yet he still gets there,” UIC coach Steve McClain said after Sunday’s regular season finale against Milwaukee.”
While Dixson struggled with efficiency, UIC would have been even less efficient without him.
“He’s just a very difficult matchup,” Milwaukee coach Rob Jeter said Sunday, prior to Dixson winning the award. “His style is unorthodox, the way he moves and throws his body around and shoots it from all types of angles. He makes some difficult shots.”
Dixson also leads the All-Freshman Team, which includes Northern Kentucky forward Drew McDonald, Cleveland State guard Rob Edwards, Detroit guard Josh McFolley and Youngstown State guard Jordan Andrews.
UIC will need some more incredible efforts from Dixson this weekend at the Horizon League Tournament if the Flames are to continue their season deeper into March.