After a redshirt year and a fitness and body transformation, Eric Dixon finally had his chance to take the court.
Right away, it was evident that Dixon is an athletic, strong big man. He’s got the physicality to rumble down low, but also has great footwork and a nice eye to see the rest of the floor from the post and even dish out passes to the perimeter.
He gets after it on the glass and even has the ability to take and make open threes occasionally.
While there were some impressive glimpses, there were also clear areas for improvement. Although he could hold his own inside, he struggled a bit defensively when brought out to the high post or when switched onto a guard or a quicker opponent. At times, he felt just one step behind or slightly out of position, maybe it’ll come with more familiarity in his role and team concepts.
Maybe it could have also been attributed to a hurt Achilles from midway through the year. Maybe the redshirt magic will need another season to kick in.
Dixon appeared in 21 of 25 games for the Villanova Wildcats this season, averaging 3.0 points and 1.6 rebounds through 8.2 minutes per game.
He shot 21-of-45 (46.7%) overall and 2-of-8 from deep.
His best showing came early in the season, when he posted a 14-point, 10-rebound double-double against Hartford on Dec. 1. His impressive performance included six offensive rebounds, three assists, a block, and a 6-of-10 shooting clip on the floor.
He played 21 minutes that game and for the most part, didn’t come close to receiving that same amount of playing time.
The emergence of Brandon Slater and a rising minute-count in the second half of the season, plus proven veterans Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Jermaine Samuels up front.
Next year, however, should be different. With Robinson-Earl leaving for the NBA Draft, there’s a hole to fill in the frontcourt, and expect Dixon to be there to receive a bigger piece of that.
“It’s a great opportunity for Nnanna (Njoku) coming in, for Trey (Patterson), and obviously Eric Dixon, who we’re excited about,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said of the opening up front.
With a full offseason and preseason coming up, it should only help Dixon’s development.
Depending on Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree’s decision, who continues to rehab and recover, Dixon would be one of the first in line to receive a bigger share of frontcourt minutes.
It feels like he has the physical tools and athletic gifts to be more than ready to step in, it’s just a matter of putting it together and getting it all to click and jive on the court.
Maybe the post-redshirt year magic will finally kick in next year. He was towards the bottom of the rotation this season, but it’s hard to imagine a repeat scenario next season.