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Villanova Basketball 2021-22 player preview: Eric Dixon

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Is the 6-foot-8 big man primed for a big jump this season?

NCAA Basketball: Roman Legends Classic-Villanova vs Hartford David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Dixon stats

SEASON GP GS MIN FG FG% 3PT 3P% FT FT% OR DR REB AST BLK STL PF TO PTS
SEASON GP GS MIN FG FG% 3PT 3P% FT FT% OR DR REB AST BLK STL PF TO PTS
2020-21 21 0 8.2 1.0-2.1 46.7 0.1-0.4 25 1.0-1.5 64.5 0.6 1 1.6 0.3 0.3 0.2 1.3 0.5 3

Eric Dixon

Height: 6-8
Weight: 255
Hometown: Willow Grove, PA
High School: Abington

Eric Dixon Player Preview:

A lot of Villanova fans, myself included, thought last season would represent a major breakout campaign for local big-man Eric Dixon in his first year on the court for the Wildcats. That prediction did not come true as he seemingly had not yet earned the coaching staff’s full trust, with Jay Wright often preferring Jeremiah Robinson-Earl at center or even smaller-ball lineups. However, Dixon showed enough flashes in his 21 games played that hope remains high he can become an impact player as a redshirt sophomore in a thinned-out backcourt.

With Robinson-Earl now playing in the NBA for the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree unfortunately unable to play due to injury, Dixon’s competition on the way to playing major minutes for the first time in his college career should consist of only true freshman Nnanna Njoku and Jermaine Samuels.

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Njoku – like Dixon and many Wright-era Wildcats before him – will have his work cut out for him if he is to emerge as a major rotation player in his first year of college basketball. Wright will likely trust Samuels’ rim protection abilities situationally when he wants to play small ball like he did in a few occasions last year. But as was the case last year, the coaching staff will likely want a more physical presence in the paint most of the time against Big East opponents.

While Njoku and Samuels will both likely play minutes in his position, Dixon will enter the season starting games and playing the bulk of the minutes available.

At Big East Media Day, Wright said of Dixon, “Eric Dixon is going to be big for us because we’re undersized...we have a lot of expectation for him because of that. He’ll be good in the low post.”

My confidence has been bolstered by the highlights released on Monday from the scrimmage against Duke that showed him playing with the starters for most of the clip. And while the thought of Jon Rothstein exhausts me, he was on campus for a practice earlier in the fall and tweeted shortly afterwards his prediction that Dixon would start this season.

Assuming he does stay in Wright’s good graces and is a major factor on the court for the ‘Cats this season, what is it we should expect from Dixon?

Averaging 1.4 blocks per 40 minutes and punctuating that effort with three blocks in Villanova’s Sweet 16 loss to eventual national champions Baylor, Dixon has the physical ability and defensive instinct to swat a lot of shots towards unsuspecting spectators this season.

And while there was no one standout performance to define his offensive ability like there was on the defensive end against Baylor (other than 14 points in a non-conference win against Hartford), Dixon averaged 14.9 points per 40 minutes. And while he was not consistent enough last season in my opinion, he would occasionally make plays to beat defenders with his post moves or with his effort on the offensive boards that have convinced me to keep the faith with him and believe he will come good on the promise he carried with him to campus two years ago.

Besides competition for minutes in the form of Robinson-Earl, the biggest obstacle Dixon has needed to overcome on the way to maximizing his obvious gifts is his physical fitness. He improved greatly in that regard during his redshirt season, and with another offseason working with Villanova’s famed strength and conditioning regimen this offseason he should have all he needs to make an impact as the ‘Cats look to pursue some more titles.

Best Case Scenario: Dixon makes the center spot his own, averages a double-double with two blocks a game, and becomes even more comfortable spreading the floor by taking corner threes. Samuels spends 95% of his time playing forward and Njoku can be eased in as a member of the rotation that comes off the bench.

Worst Case Scenario: Whether it is his fitness, his ability to switch on defense, or something in the offensive scheme, Dixon struggles to click within this team once again this season. He picks up some DNPs, small ball with Samuels at the five becomes prevalent, and Njoku takes enough of his minutes that people start to notice.

Poll

How many points will Dixon average this season?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    0.0-2.0
    (5 votes)
  • 2%
    2.1-4.0
    (19 votes)
  • 26%
    4.1-6.0
    (168 votes)
  • 43%
    6.1-8.0
    (277 votes)
  • 22%
    8.1-10.0
    (143 votes)
  • 4%
    10.0+
    (29 votes)
641 votes total Vote Now