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Villanova Basketball 2021-22 Player Recap: Eric Dixon

After a solid first season as a full-time starter, Dixon is primed for an even bigger one next year.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament South Regional-Villanova vs Michigan Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Dixon’s career 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
2021-22 38 38 25.2 3.4-6.8 49.8 0.4-0.9 48.6 1.8-2.2 82.1 3.3 3.2 6.4 1.3 0.5 0.7 2.3 1.4 9.1

The breakdown

The 6-foot-8, 255-pound big man formally made his introduction this season.

Sure, he had a few glimpses and some moments in the 2020-21 season, his first campaign since taking a redshirt year, but he mostly had to wait his turn behind Jeremiah Robinson-Earl.

Robinson-Earl’s early departure for the NBA set the stage for Dixon to take the reins at center. With a thinned-out frontcourt, especially with Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree’s career initially seeming over in the beginning, plus the younger big men still being unknowns, it was practically Dixon or bust down low.

There were big shoes and a big void to fill, and Dixon rose to the occasion just fine. He was a fixture down low and did more than handle his responsibilities.

The lane-violation-drawing maestro and tanky — yet, still very much athletic and mobile — forward averaged 9.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. While he was a solid finisher inside, with great footwork to boot, he also showed off his three-point shot and jumper, which improved over the course of the season and allowed him to punish teams that left him wide open on the perimeter.

Dixon shot 49.8% overall, and also 17-of-35 (48.6%) from deep.

In addition to what he was able to do on the scoring and rebounding end, his playmaking was a more underrated part of his game. Dixon hardly had tunnel vision down in the paint, making some nice passes to teammates that resulted in open shots or quality looks throughout the season.

He was named the Big Five’s Most Improved Player, and was also in the running to achieve the same award in the Big East.

Dixon went on a tear in mid-January to late February, and his best showing came in a career 24-point, 12-rebound double-double in an 85-74 win over UConn. Dixon shot an efficient 10-for-15 on the floor during that Feb. 5 win.

Looking ahead

The best part about Dixon is that was only his first season as a full-time starter. He exceled this past season, and he can only continue to raise the bar from here.

Dixon quickly assuaged any frontcourt fears this season, and things seemed to transition just fine from Robinson-Earl to Dixon up front.

It’ll be fun to see how he develops and evolves next season and beyond.

The physical tools are certainly there, and he’s got the skills to succeed, there are just some things that will come with experience.

Down the line, it would be great to see Dixon be even more assertive down low. He can bully and back down his man, and while he’s taken the shot himself, there were other times where he’d defer to others even when he’s gotten the best of his opponent on a post up.

Defensively, just working on his lateral quickness for switches and continuing to develop as an interior defender.

At a maximum, there are still three more seasons of Dixon — if he chooses to utilize his bonus year and stay the rest of the way. This was a great first entry for him, and next year should be an even bigger one.